Hot Coffee

 Yesterday we took a little road trip to see some friends for lunch. We’d never been out to their house before and it was about an hour and a half drive. We were WAY out in the boonies. Just before we got to their house we realized we were in a little town called…

Yes, Hot Coffee, MS. I promise if you look it up online you’ll find it. Be aware; there seems to also be an alternative rock band by the same name, of all things.  We usually joke about blink-and-miss-it towns, but this is the real thing. About twenty yards down the road from the above sign you’ll find downtown Hot Coffee. Here it is:

Look carefully. Notice the sign is attached to J&H Harper Grocery.That’s downtown. Seldom can one get a photograph of the entire downtown of any town without resorting to aerial photography. From the Covington County Chamber of Commerce site:

The Hot Coffee  community began when the horse and wagon was the
typical mode of transportation.  Hot Coffee sat near the midway point of
the road from Natchez, MS to Mobile, AL.  The long wagon trips to get
crops to market and the return trip with food and other necessities was a
multi-day journey.  In what was to be named Hot Coffee was an inn that
provided lodging on their trips to and from market. 

In the late 1800’s, L. N. Davis built his store to serve those on the
long trip.  He always kept a pot of what was advertised as “the best
hot coffee around” to help steel up the wagoneers’ stamina as they
continued on their journey; hence, the community’s name.

 Amazingly, National Geographic did a little feature story on Hot Coffee several years ago:

As an avowed coffee junkie, I envisioned a quaint
hamlet lined with tidy cafés serving all manner of frothy, caffeinated
libations. The citizens of Hot Coffee would know their arabica beans
from their robusta, grocery store off-brands would be outlawed, and the
mayor might even be part Colombian. Perhaps there would be a coffee
fountain in the town square. Forget Seattle, Vienna, and other
self-proclaimed coffee capitals, I told myself. Hot Coffee, if only by
the perfect simplicity of its name, must surely hold the key to true
brew nirvana.

But when I got to Hot Coffee, about halfway
between Jackson and Hattiesburg, reality was a cold shower. Hot Coffee
isn’t a quaint little town; it’s not even a town. Instead it’s a tiny
community of farms, homes, and businesses scattered along two-lane
Highway 532. The 12-mile (19-kilometer) stretch known locally as Hot
Coffee Road runs from the town of Mount Olive to a crossroads that dates
back to pioneer days. There, according to local lore, a resident opened
an inn in 1870 and sold coffee to passersby. Apparently the drink was
the only memorable thing about the place.

 Sadly, the grocery is closed and I was unable to stop and get a photo of the “Hot Coffee Mini-Mall” which is actually one general store by the name of McDonald’s Store.

(not my photo – from their FB site)

I did, however, grab a shot of this marvelous log home on our way out of town. It has a separate kitchen both for reducing the heat in the summer and reducing the risk of losing the whole house in a fire. I sure wish I had that…

And to our friends (you know who you are), we had a great time!

8 thoughts on “Hot Coffee

  1. Oh, how fun! I'd love to go up there one day too! I'm sort of thinking there's a community of either Mennonites or German Baptists (another “plain” group) up there who have a fantastic bakery.

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  2. There is! Follow the NatGeo link and you can read all about them and see a ton of pictures. We didn't go quite that far down the road and I wasn't aware of their kitchen/bakery (or we probably would have made an effort) so I didn't 'feature' them in this post. But after reading all about them it makes me want to go back!

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  3. Hello! I'm wondering if you'd be kind enough to let me use one of your photographs of Hot Coffee for a blog post I'm doing on a food website called Serious Eats. Would that be possible? I'd be super grateful and link back to you.

    All the best,
    Liz Clayton
    liz@twitchy.org

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