Boneyard Coffee and Tea has been around for a couple of years. Although it doesn’t have a traditional storefront café, you’ve undoubtedly seen or tasted its beverages at Urbana’s Market at the Square or at one of the many Latte’ Da! Cafés around town. In October the company moved from its location on East Chester Street to the north Crossroads Corner Consignment store at 723 South Neil Street. I recently spoke with Lauren and Karl Klein about the business and the move.
Smile Politely: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Who is behind Boneyard Coffee and Tea? When and how did you establish the business?
Lauren and Karl Klein: Lauren and Karl Klein are the owners and founders of Boneyard Coffee and Tea. The company is a sister company to the Latte’ Da! cafes that you can find in the Champaign Public Library, Lincoln Hall on the U of I campus, and in the Carle South Clinic lobby. Boneyard Coffee and Tea was formed to be the wholesale/retail component of the Latte' Da! brand. The business was established in 2012. Boneyard Coffee and Teas are also the house coffees and teas at Pekara Bakery and Bistro, as well as many wholesale clients such as Cafe 13 in Danville, Surface 51, Cracked Glass, Busey Bank, and Soulard Market in St. Louis.
SP: What led to the move to the new location?
Kleins: We moved to the Neil Street location to better serve our customers with seven-day-a-week store hours and provide daily samplings of our famous Boneyard Blend coffee and teas.
SP: Where do your source your coffee? Do you roast in-house?
Kleins: Our coffee roaster is also our coffee source, Dillanos Coffee Roasters out of Sumner, Washington. Collaboratively, we research and source the most responsibly grown and harvested beans from small cooperatives and some organic farms around the world. Together with Dillanos, we've created our own signature blend of house bean. It is primarily a Rwandan, some Papua New Guinea, and a lovely Guatemalan from the Rio Azul cooperative.
SP: Where do you source your teas, and do you create your own blends of those?
Kleins: Our teas come from our wonderful tea guy in Minnesota. He procures amazing teas in all varietals, like Black, Green, White, Roiboos, Puers, and many herbal infusions. We do make some of our own blends such as Chamomile Mint, Mint Chocolate black tea, Ginger Peach and a local favorite, Boneyard Blend, which is a black tea and jasmine green combined with lemongrass, rose petals, and cornflowers.
SP: What can we find in the store?
Kleins: You will find all our signature coffee in whole bean or drip grind in the store. This includes Boneyard Blend, our organic Central American dark roast, Organic Peruvian De-Caf (Swiss water process for purity and without chemicals), organic Haitians, and some specialty blends from time to time.
We also carry two ounce pre-packaged loose leaf teas in many varieties. This is an excellent way to try a small amount without committing to a larger purchase. We find our customers love this as it introduces them to teas that they might not have tried before. Additionally we have locally crafted coffee and tea soaps that have our signature Boneyard Blend coffee in the soap for exceptional lathering and anti-oxidant benefits. The tea soaps have black tea added for the same benefits. These are a wonderful gift! We have tea bags and alternative brewing systems too, such as pour overs, cold press Toddy set, filters and other coffee and tea accoutrements.
SP: What's your favorite coffee brewing method, and why?
Kleins: I'd say the favorite brewing system is the pour over. It is a great coffee experience as you select the perfect bean, hand grind it to perfection, perform the ritual filter rinse with very hot, almost boiling water, then add the coffee, slowly pour the water over the bean in a circular pattern and ooh and ahh as the "bloom" forms and the nectar drips into your mug or carafe. It's a wonderful cup of coffee, but any method using our delicious coffee and when done properly will leave you happily caffeinated.
SP: Anything else you'd like to share with SP readers?
Kleins: Thanks and hope to see you in the store soon!
Despite outdated information on its website and Facebook page, the new location for Boneyard Coffee and Tea is 723 South Neil Street, Champaign, in the north Crossroads Corner Consignment shop (near El Toro on Neil). Crossroads Corner Consignment is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
You can also find the coffee and tea at Latte’ Da! locations around town. Boneyard Coffee and Tea has also participated at Urbana’s Market at the Square, and The Land Connection’s Downtown Champaign Tuesday market.
All photos by Jessica Hammie