If the bushwacker is the unofficial frozen cocktail of the Alabama Gulf Coast, then the bushwacker coffee from Southern Shores Coffee is its unofficial brew.
“A lot of people down here call it their pre-game,” says Mark Lindsey, who, with his wife, Heather, started the Gulf Shores-based coffee company about seven years ago.
It took six months of trial and error, Mark says, to perfect the bushwacker flavor in roasted coffee form. He knew that if he could re-create the taste of Kahlua, chocolate, coconut, rum and ice cream, he would have a winning flavored coffee. A self-described purist, he was determined to do it by roasting those flavors into the beans.
“It was an idea that became an obsession until we nailed it,” he says. “It tastes spot-on.”
When they took it to the National Shrimp Festival one year, the Lindseys sold out of the bushwacker flavor. “That’s about the time we realized he had something,” Mark says.
The family moved to south Baldwin County from Ohio about 13 years ago. Mark was a manager in the copier industry, and Heather worked in telecommunications. When their daughter and son played soccer on school and travel teams, they made an adventure out of visiting as many coffee shops as possible in other cities.
“My daughter and I are coffee nuts,” says Mark. Once they started experimenting by roasting coffee for themselves at home, “it kinda grew.”
The operation moved to a Daphne warehouse, where they spent their nights and weekends roasting and packaging coffee.
Finally, the Lindseys decided it was time to open a brick-and-mortar coffee shop. They found the perfect spot in a small shopping center on 20th Avenue across from Hope’s Cheesecake.
“It’s a little off the beaten path,” says Mark. “I was hesitant. She wasn’t.”
By “she,” he means Heather. And Heather was correct. “After 26 years, she’s normally right,” he says with a laugh.
The 900-square-foot coffee shop opened in December of 2018. “I took a leap of faith opening this place,” says Mark, who enjoys meeting the locals and tourists who visit Southern Shores. He has a special fondness for the snowbirds who flock to the beach every winter.
Today, all the roasting is done in that location. “I’m always roasting something,” he says, including about 30 pounds of bushwacker-flavored coffee beans per day.
The Gulf Shores shop has done so well that the Lindseys opened a second location in Foley in May. Located on busy Highway 59, the Foley shop is much larger, with almost 3,000 square feet of space, a drive-thru that’s “big enough to handle boats,” and a pool table in the front. It also has a full kitchen.
Mark runs the original location in Gulf Shores, which is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and Heather operates the Foley location, open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. Both shops are closed on Sundays, but their coffee is available in whole beans or ground on the website. Southern Shores ships all over the country.
The bushwacker coffee is also sold in the gift shop at Tacky Jack’s. And, in addition to roasting all the coffee for Southern Shores, Mark roasts gourmet private-label coffee for other businesses, as well.
The naturally infused bushwacker coffee is the bestselling flavor at Southern Shores, where it’s always available to sample. In addition to brewed coffee, it comes in a cold brew, which is “insanely popular” in the summer months, and a frappe, which is probably the closest thing to a “real” bushwacker, only without the alcohol. The frappe is topped with homemade whipped cream and toasted coconut, drizzled with Ghirardelli chocolate.
When customers fall in love with the flavor, whether they’re tourists or locals, they can always take home a bag and make it themselves. “That’s one reason we ship everywhere,” says Mark. “It reminds people of the beach.”
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