Belleville’s Newest Cuppa Is Balance Coffee & Tea
Belleville, IL/March 1, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – There’s something new brewing at the old Belleville train depot. A brand new a coffee roastery and café opened February 20th in the historic building. Balance Coffee & Tea at 732 South Illinois Street is filling a culinary void left downtown after St. Louis Bread Co. and Junction Coffee closed last year. Balance founder Marshall Morris grew up in Belleville and Columbia, Illinois before going to work in the railroad industry. His work eventually took him to America’s unofficial coffee capital, Seattle, Washington. That’s where Morris, after 15 years, got out of the railroad industry and learned the coffee trade. So when he decided to head home and open a coffee roastery and café, the old train depot in Belleville seemed a natural fit. The now beautifully restored building dates back to 1927, when it served the Green Diamond Line for Illinois Central Railroad—the same company that gave Morris his first railroad job.
Morris learned his new trade inside a Seattle coffee house that operated a number of cafés and it’s own roastery. That gave him the chance to learn the coffee making business from bean to cup. He quickly moved up from barista to coffee educator—the in-house expert charged with training staff, and educating customers. While in Seattle, Morris founded his roasting business, Balance Coffee & Tea, and began selling his small batch, artisan beans online. In Belleville he’s blending and roasted beans right in the back of the shop. To call him an artisan, small batch coffee roaster, is not understating it. His Mill City 1K coffee roaster does 2.2 lbs. of beans at a time. That’s a maximum output of about 13 lbs. an hour.
Balance Coffee & Tea owner Marshall Morris spoke with the Belleville News Democrat about opening his new coffee shop and roastery at 732 South Illinois Street in Belleville.
Those house-roasted beans are excellent for many brewing methods such as a Chemex, pour over, AeroPress, French press, and even a drip coffee machine. Just let them know which, and they’ll grind appropriately. Their fresh roasts are sold in coffee caches—80g packages of their beans, pre-ground for ease of use. You can have them delivered (via US Postal Service), or pick them up right in the shop. And of course, the coffee and espresso drinks sold in the shop are made with those same beans. They’re also commercial cold brew nitro coffee and tea suppliers.
Some of the most popular offerings at Balance include their Belleville Blend, which is made with a blend of three beans, and the Average Joe, a double blend that is their darkest roast. These are coffees everyone can appreciate. Balance also offers single-origin coffees that rotate with regional coffee growing seasons. At various times, customers will find coffees sourced from Honduras, Ethiopia, and Columbia. Another coffee treat Morris believes customers will crave, especially as it gets warmer, is the cold brewed nitro coffee. For those who’ve never tried one, it’s cold coffee on tap that’s been infused with tiny nitrogen bubbles, giving the coffee a foamy texture, like beer. Nitro coffee lovers say it’s creamier and richer than regular iced coffee, and slightly sweeter than your average cold brew too. Morris makes it himself, and even provides it to commercial customers for resale.
Besides coffee, customers will find a nice selection of their tea blends, including a mint green tea, a spiced chai tea, and black mango tea. There are plans to further develop their tea offerings as the business progresses. Café customers will soon find a full line of pastries too—from another new(ish) metro-east business, Lizzy Bob’s Bakery in Fairview Heights; and quiche from the baker at Our Coffee House Cafe in Columbia.
Balance Coffee & Tea is open 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday – Friday, and 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Saturday – Sunday. After March 7th, artist and yoga instructor Nicole Shanks’ will hold Yoga & Coffee at Balance Coffee & Tea. Each Tuesday from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m., $15 will get you an early morning yoga class and coffee from the cafe!
Morris says he a lot of factors came together to lead him back to Belleville. It was a chance to come home, a chance to bring an incredible coffee experience to his home town, and a chance to help nurture the culinary and artisan community here. Cafe customers will notices the works of local artists on display (with more to come). Morris says future plans include offering coffee tastings at the cafe and live music on Fridays. Eventually he wants to develop a roasting plant and nitro brewery in Columbia. For now, he’s focused on making the best coffee he can for a metro east community thirsty for a great cuppa.