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Posted: April 10, 2014 8:48 p.m.

For the love of coffee

Oxford veteran opens coffee shop in Porterdale

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Tim Hughes returned from deployment in Afghanistan not with thoughts of war, but dreams of coffee.

The 29-year-old veteran from the 4th Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division in Fort Polk, La., spent three years in the Army, including a tour in Afghanistan in 2006, where two civilian contractors sparked his interest in coffee beans. His first coffee shop, Argyle’s Coffee House, which he runs in Porterdale with his father, Emmett, opened Wednesday.

Hughes said the contractors called themselves “Green Beans Coffee” and would set up in the dining hall, play chess and make coffee all day.

“They were always in a really good mood,” Hughes said, “and I would always try to talk with them if I had a minute.”
Hughes describes himself as a long-time coffee drinker, whether a warm cup being the first thing he does in the morning or, against his better judgment, even a choice at night.

However, his path did not lead straight to producing his own coffee. After returning home, the now-Oxford resident worked at a coffee shop in a book retail chain. While he did well there, he said, he then went to school in Nashville for welding, beginning down the road to enter the metal fabrication industry. Hughes said he wanted to eventually make metal art, which had always been a hobby.

He found enjoyable work at Streamline Fabrication in Conyers, but coffee never left the back of his mind. Or the front of his lips.

“Now I just have an opportunity to get back into it,” Hughes said.

Leaving Streamline Fabrication was sad, Hughes said, but he couldn’t turn down the chance to run his own community-oriented business, especially in Georgia. He relocated with his family last year from Ohio, after living “all around the country.”

“I just fell in love with the place,” Hughes said.

Working with his dad, who Hughes said is partly retired, has only given him more opportunity. More time to be with him, more of a small-town feeling, more of a reason for his whole family to be involved.

“That was one of the main draws,” Hughes said. “I could have somewhere where my wife can come hang out.”
Hughes said he and his father experimented with types of beans and methods for about a year before they felt they were ready to serve coffee to the public.

“It was a lot of trial and error. We spent a lot of time tasting other people’s coffee. We read a lot of books. Having your wife as a librarian puts a lot of that at your disposal,” Hughes said.

The Hughes duo buys coffee beans directly through a broker, as opposed to through a corporate brand. Where they source from depends on the season, but Hughes said Brazil and Colombia usually have a good selection.

They roast the beans themselves, in small batches on site in plain view of any customer who walks in, which allows them to sell coffee at a significantly lower cost than their larger, chain competitors. A small, 12 ounce cup is $1.35. They also offer 16 and 20 ounce cups, along with a variety of organic, flavored syrups, espresso, lattes and cappuccinos.

“We have pretty much everything except decaf,” Hughes said.

Hughes said they have goals to introduce a local bakery at some point. One of their ideas is to make Belgian liege waffles, which Hughes said are similar to doughnuts. They also want to work with local artists who want to display and sell art around the shop.

“We just want to be an integral part of the community and get to know everyone in Porterdale, not to mention Covington and Oxford,” Hughes said.

The shop’s name, Hughes said, was his father’s inspiration. He asked him several times why he came up with it, but he said his dad has remained mum on the source of the namesake.

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