By Anna Grace Usery
Those who suffered agony similar to a broken heart when Heartbreak Coffee in Water Valley closed up shop can now mend their caffeine high with its return. The coffee shop, known for its vegan, gluten-free donuts and specialty coffees celebrates its grand opening this afternoon at 5 p.m.
The shop is located inside and adjacent to Tarasque Cucina’s new location on 1611 Jackson Ave West. John Stokes, co-owner of Tarasque, approached Gretchen Williams, owner of Heartbreak Coffee, with an offer to put down roots she couldn’t refuse. Not only would Italian food—an appropriate European complement to coffee—be at her customers’ beck and call, she would also get to work amongst friends.
“I have the utmost respect for John and Lauren not just as amazing, genuine people but also the way they approach food and business. You can tell with every single bite, that John cooks with pride and food is his passion. It was the perfect place more Heartbreak to put down roots in Oxford,” Williams said.
Williams honed her inner Renaissance woman by gutting, rebuilding, drywalling, painting and tiling her new space to provide the LOU community with a new, big city aesthetic. She said she spent so much time updating the space not only to bring it up to city building codes but because she is passionate about drinking, roasting and advocating for something the Oxford community may take for granted – its coffee.
“Coffee for a long time has been a big boy club, especially with specialty coffee and roasters. I wanted the shop to have a more feminine feel,” she said.
She said she’ll be offering her staples that community members remember from Water Valley and the Farmer’s Market—like the vegan, gluten-free donuts—but she also wants to introduce the community to the specialty scene. She understands how intimidating walking in and seeing new terms like “pour-overs” can be, but she wants it to be an inviting atmosphere.
“I want Heartbreak to offer a more approachable feel,” she said.
The coffee menu will be a more “stripped down” menu compared to other Oxford coffee shops.
“I want the focus to be on the coffee itself,” Williams said.
Though there won’t be any blended drinks or extensive syrup flavors, she will offer a variety of house-made simple syrups for those who like sweeter coffee options. This includes a summer special – honey lavender lattes.
As a nice complement to the coffee she roasts and brews herself, Williams will also be making desserts in house. The summer menu is limited, she said, but once she begins opening in the mornings she will offer a multitude of pastries and homemade granola.
Williams describes her dedication to coffee as a “passion project” and says she wants to pass that on to the community.
“I want (customers to experience) the transparency of seeing the process, from roasting to brewing. Nowhere else here can you go in and see someone roasting,” she said.
As Heartbreak reintroduces itself in the Oxford coffee marketplace, Williams said she is beginning to think about the education part to her business. She intends to establish classes on how to make your own pour-overs, and how to acclimate your palate to Guatemalan, Ethiopian and Costa Rican coffees.
Heartbreak Coffee is open Thursday-Saturday from 5-9 p.m. throughout the summer. For more information about Heartbreak Coffee, follow this link to the Facebook page.