A Q&A with Andrew and Kirby Koehn of Esso Coffee
About 10 years ago, Andrew (Drew) Koehn bought a home espresso machine, and his future found a new direction.
In November 2017, Andrew and his younger brother, Kirby, opened Esso Coffee in Alliance, a shop located at 1686 S Union Avenue, directly across from the University of Mount Union campus.
“We always thought Alliance should have a good coffee shop, and there didn’t seem to be one,” Kirby said. He estimates about 50 percent of the shop’s business is Mount Union students and faculty members.
Esso—whose name is derived from the term single-origin coffee—is a modern coffee emporium with an emphasis on careful preparation and quality ingredients. Esso buys its coffee from two roasters: Sunergos in Kentucky and Onyx in Arkansas.
Q. Tell me about the coffee you use?
A. “There’s lots of good roasters out there. For us, it seems to be almost more about relationships. The reason we chose Sunergos is we met the owners at a coffee festival in Nashville, and they were really helpful. They helped us get our equipment. One guy came up before we opened to help us get started. Plus, they have great coffee. Onyx—we’d always looked up to them; they’ve been doing really well recently at coffee competitions, taking first or second place. We also have a line of loose teas from Tea Source in Minnesota.”
Q. How about your other ingredients?
A. “Drew makes all the syrups—caramel, vanilla, maple and lavender, which is our seasonal one right now. He takes a simple syrup and steeps the lavender flowers in it. It’s a unique flavor, pretty popular. For our mochas and hot chocolate and sipping chocolate, we use dark chocolate from Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate in California. We really like the texture. It seems to be the smoothest that we’ve found. We use whole milk from Smith’s and nondairy oat milk, which has a texture that’s close to real milk.”
Q. Do you serve any food at Esso?
A. “We have pastries made by Beth Hofer, who lives in Salem. We met her at the Alliance Farmers’ Market about two years ago. She went to the culinary institute in New York City to be a pastry chef. She brings in all sorts of things. There’s a breakfast biscotti that’s almost like a granola bar with fruit, nuts and oats and a more traditional biscotti with almonds, amaretto and white and dark chocolate. We have scones—blueberry-ginger-lemon and cranberry-pistachio-orange and a savory one with black pepper, bacon, cheddar and pecans. And she makes chocolate chip cookies, brownies, pocket pies with natural fruit fillings.”
Esso Coffee: 1686 S Union Ave., Alliance. Hours are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. For more information, call 330-333-6499 or find Esso Coffee on Facebook.