A Stronger Brew

Ubora Coffee Roasters will bring Augusta tastes from around the world.

Augusta’s growth trajectory, for the most part, has remained a well-kept secret outside the region. But it’s also become an attractive business prospect for those coming from far and wide—even Hawaii.

Andre Leon didn’t intentionally move to Augusta; the Navy transferred him from Hawaii to Fort Gordon. As Leon put it, “I didn’t look for it. I guess Augusta looked for me.”

Leon was born in Brazil and grew up in Argentina. He’s lived in New York, Hawaii, California and Georgia. And this fall, he will open a new coffee shop on Jones Street in downtown Augusta. It’s more than an ambitious passion project—it’s the result of a life of travel, expanding tastes and relationships formed around the world.

“I was visiting some friends in Italy,” Leon said. “They live in a small town up in the mountains named Campli. My friend took me to this small cafe in their main piazza. There, the owner treated me like I was part of her family and made me a cappuccino, with coffee that was freshly roasted and milk that came from the farm about two miles from there. It didn’t get any fresher than that and the taste and quality is something I remember til this day.”

Ubora Coffee Roasters began with a coffee truck in Jacksonville, Fla., which Leon said quickly became popular. The shop in Augusta will be Ubora’s first, and Leon wants it to be a reflection of cultures that inspired Ubora (which means “excellence” in Swahili). Leon was largely influenced by his time living and traveling in countries like Italy, Australia and New Zealand, all of which “were approaching coffee in a different way.”

As a result, people walking into a coffee shop off the beaten path in downtown Augusta will experience tastes from other countries. Ubora’s team is sourcing its coffee from Colombia, Honduras, Costa Rica, Brazil, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Indonesia and will roast everything in-house.

Those who come and stick around will have their choice of a variety of Argentine-influenced appetizers and pastries. For those who can’t, resealable bags of Ubora’s coffee less than five days from roast won’t be any less tempting.

It’s an exciting vision, especially for an area that lacks coffee variety. Cases of green coffee beans will line the shelves of the back wall, and customers will be able to watch the whole process unfold across a sleek, minimalistic coffee bar. But the coffee itself is hardly the point. Good coffee creates a gathering place, and Ubora is designed to facilitate conversation.

“All the tables are perpendicular to the wall, so it makes you sit, and eventually somebody sits in front of you,” Leon said. “You have to make eye contact. Eventually a conversation could happen. Because we live in a time that everybody’s on their phones, everybody’s just on social media. I want to bring it back a little bit, bring that human factor again…It’s kind of sad that we’re losing it. I want bring it back through the craftsmanship of coffee.”

Photo courtesy of Ubora Coffee


Article appears in the October 2018 issue of Augusta Magazine.

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