Pop-up Bean Bar is percolating in Florence
FLORENCE, S.C. – A steady stream of coffee lovers place orders and watch Malena Brown go to work carefully blending simple syrups, milk and espresso for lattes, cappuccino mochas and more.
There is a constant flow of chatter as she works. Brown, the co-owner of the Bean Bar along with her husband, David, says she wants to get as fast as a bartender and be able to carry on conversations while she works.
The Bean Bar is an espresso pop up bar specializing in hot and iced lattes, espresso, macchiato, Americano, mocha and other coffee drinks along with teas, all made exclusively with organic ingredients.
Brown said being organic is important to her and her husband, because they have both lost family members to cancer. She said using organic products that are toxin free can provide healthy alternatives for people. They offer vegan and regular chocolate, regular milk and oat milk.
Malena is originally from Argentina, and David is from Scotland. They met in New York, where they lived before moving to the South.
She said they loved New York, but David was working three jobs and she had 3½ jobs.
Now they are able to devote most of their attention to perfecting their drinks for Bean Bar. They also run a business that belonged to her father that is carried out mainly on the internet.
She said it was her mother who led them to South Carolina. Melena said she spent summers in Hartsville visiting her mother’s best friend. Her mother moved here, and they followed.
Malena said they have always worked in stores and been managers, helping sell other people’s products.
“Our dream has been to have our own store and sell our own products,” she said. ”There is nothing wrong with dreams; dreams are free.”
For three years, they have worked to perfect their coffees and teas.
“My favorite thing to do is make new recipes,” she said. “I also love steaming milk and making new simple syrups.”
David said he likes making mochas.
Malena said they are still in the learning stage when it comes to their latte art.
Comparing their skills to school, she said, “I’d say we have graduated from elementary school and are in middle school. There is so much latte art. It took about a year to get to middle school practicing every day.”
She said it would be awesome if one day their 15-year-old intern could go out and win an award in latte art; or, she said, if they could pass the Bean Bar on to the next generation.
Malena said every time they come out with a new drink, it represents a lot of work. She said they practice and practice some more until it is just right, and then test it on a small group of friends before putting it on the menu.
They will be working on their spring and summer drinks soon, she said.
“We are dedicated to keeping our flavors organic and complementary to coffee flavors,” she said. “That is why we sell only one size.”
She said their drinks are made to be a perfect blend of coffee to flavor to milk or oat milk for that one specific size.
Malena said they started their pop up business to find out if their products would sell in the Florence area.
“It has been doing awesome,” she said. “We are so thankful every time we serve a coffee and they (the customer) get a big smile on their face.”
They have a steady group of faithful customers who follow them from location to location.
One customer said her brother started the first coffee shop in town, and the Bean Bar is by far her favorite coffee shop now.
“I love everything they have,” she said. “It depends on the day and what I’m in the mood for.”
Another customer said, “I’m a big fan of the black tea latte.”
While still testing the waters, the Browns have decided it is time to start their own “brick-and-mortar store,” which will be located next to Naturally Outdoors.
She said they just celebrated their first anniversary at Naturally Outdoors and are looking forward to opening beside them. She said the owners have been amazing.
She said their commitment to an organic and healthy product coincides with S.C. Real Foods’ healthy food choices.
The Browns are also firm believers in recycling.
“We try to recycle,” she said. “All our products are biodegradable and compostable, even our straws and plastic cups.”
She said plans for their new store include using china plates and cups and continuing the same practice with to-go containers.
She said finally their dream is about to become a reality.
“The amazing people of Florence are waiting for us to hire a contractor,” she said.
The contractor will go before the city and finalize the plans.
“Hopefully the city will approve,” she said.
Bean Bar currently operates on a schedule with 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays at S.C. Real Foods and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday at Naturally Outdoors. They alternate between the two on Saturday.
For more information, contact the Bean Bar at BeanBarSC.com.