The Origins of Origin Coffee Bar

click to enlarge Matt and Elise Higgins share their story of uprooting their lives to return to their dream of living in Savannah. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ORIGIN COFFEE BAR
Photo courtesy of Origin Coffee Bar
Matt and Elise Higgins share their story of uprooting their lives to return to their dream of living in Savannah.
It is so often said that food connects all of us. Whether it a shared meal, a shared recipe, or sharing culture through food, people have connected on emotional levels over meals for millennia. It could fairly be said that coffee also links the human race. Most everyone and every culture enjoys some form of coffee whether in the USA or across the other parts of the world.

Our culture here in Savannah is coupled with cups of bitter notes of a coffee in our hands daily. Whether nursing your head from a night out too late, on your way to work in one of our many bustling industries, or cramming for finals in one of our handful of universities, a fresh cup o’ joe goes perfectly with pretty much every lifestyle that can be found in our city.

Now, Savannah has the perfect place to tickle the fancy of all the aforementioned patrons—Origin Coffee Bar. Matt and Elise Higgins met while attending the Savannah College of Art and Design. Expectedly, their degrees carried them to another state for jobs in the art world. Matt spent years as a graphic designer, and Elise was a marketing director. When the pandemic hit, the couple recognized the world’s complications as an opportunity to change their lives for the better.

Elise shared the story, “We got to the point where we were like, ‘Is this what we want to do forever? This pandemic is going to last a month, maybe we can reinvent ourselves. We have some time.’ We said, ‘Where we would want to be if we can be anywhere?’” Their answer was Savannah.

PHOTO COURTESY OF ORIGIN COFFEE BAR
Photo courtesy of Origin Coffee Bar
For the dynamic couple, the dream was simple: first they dropped their long-term careers, and then they packed their bags. Matt and Elise drove down south to move to their ideal town so they could start their ideal business. The beginnings of Origin Coffee Bar were quaint, actually starting with a mobile coffee cart. The Higgins have brilliant business minds, and the idea was to start small by bringing coffee where it was needed and expand as demand grew.

The duo literally planted a swanky espresso machine on top of a small movable bar - Phyllis as she was named - installed a register, and began serving hand-poured coffee at Savannah weddings and events.

After serving an event at The Clyde Venue, the owner approached Matt and Elise to offer them the bar.

“Within two weeks we turned it around and got a coffee shop up and going,” Elise said. “It has been a very, very fast progression, but I feel like everything fell into place in all the right ways. We are super happy to be here.”

Perc is the go-to coffee for Origin Coffee Bar.

According to Elise, “We obviously knew Perc because we went to college here, and we loved their coffee forever. It is really convenient to have a roaster in town instead of searching elsewhere because you can order and pickup coffee in the same day.”

To create Origin’s base coffee and espresso menu, the couple and their team spent hours taste testing espresso. The result is a well-balanced and thoughtful coffee and espresso menu that takes the ideal Perc bean and makes it into its ideal drink.

The menu doesn’t end at the classics.

At Origin, new specialty or seasonal recipes typically arrive on a whim or via group effort. For example, a barista at Origin ordered a bit too many bottles of orange flavoring. The result was one of Origin’s most photogenic and most popular drinks — the Cold Brew Creamsicle, just one of the drinks featured on the recently debuted spring menu. The Cold Brew Creamsicle is a super smooth and slow-brewed cold coffee infused with orange, then topped with a fluffy layer of creamsicle double cream. The other heavy hitters are the Matcha Latte, Bouquet Latte and Passionfruit Espresso Tonic.

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF ORIGIN COFFEE BAR
Photo courtesy of Origin Coffee Bar
The Bouquet Latte is simply what Matt drinks every morning. It seemed natural to add it to the menu at Origin. The Latte is created with lavender, rose and fresh espresso. It is a delicately flavored drink with a huge punch of caffeine.

When it comes to the Espresso Tonic, Matt said, “I had had one prior in my life. It was a hibiscus tonic and it revolutionized my thought about what coffee was. When we started developing the menu, I was like, ‘We need to have espresso tonic on the menu.’”

For those who have never tasted an espresso tonic, it is likely they do not understand how the pairing works so well. Typically, two wrongs do not make a right, which means combining two bitter drinks does not make something palatable. But, somehow, by combining two typically bold liquids, the resulting fusion is balanced. The bitter notes of the espresso play off of the biter notes of the tonic, and they act together to compliment each other. Origin takes their version over the edge by using passion fruit tonic. The small hint of sweetness further balances the bitter notes of the concoction.

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF ORIGIN COFFEE BAR
Photo courtesy of Origin Coffee Bar
I am told the Dalgona will soon be added back to the menu. It is highly demanded and for good reason. The unique creation is truly an Origin original. At the base of the handcrafted drink sits iced milk, and to finish the drink Origin’s barista hand spoons a whipped coffee over the top. If you are searching for the perfect coffee to drink in the hot months of summer, the Dalgona is it.

The most recent menu addition, and so far my favorite, is Origin’s XL Latte half gallon jug that you take home. We all enjoy our morning coffee, but sometimes it tastes that much better to have it made for you — especially by the professionals. Each jug is made fresh with the consumer’s choice of add-ins: milk, almond milk, or oat milk, as well as your flavoring of choice.

For the Higgins, the dream continues. Currently, it is one cup at a time. But, much like the past, if the right opportunity comes along, Savannah may see a second and new location for Origin Coffee Bar.

Origin Coffee Bar at The Clyde Venue is located at 223 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Savannah. Visit their site orgincoffee.bar for online orders and more details about their unique concoctions.

About The Author

Lindy Moody

A true Southerner through and through, Lindy Moody was born in the Atlanta area and grew up in a Southern family where she learned to cook - and more importantly how to eat. Her love for all things cuisine began with her mother teaching her to bake red velvet cake every Christmas. As every Southerner knows, holiday...
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