Call it an occupational hazard or a family tradition, but I am a coffee hound. This is relevant because we recently found some of the tastiest fresh-roasted beans ever during a recent holiday journey along U.S. 23 up the Big Sandy Valley that included a quick stop at Black Barn Produce.
I’ve written about Black Barn a few times, and several readers have reported making unsuccessful field trips to find the place, which is just off the main road near the Lawrence/Johnson line. It isn’t hard to find, and I suspect once you know where it is you’ll wonder how you ever missed it.
If you are traveling from Ashland toward Paintsville, watch for a small blue “tourism” sign near the county line, or follow the green sign directing visitors to the site of Jenny Wiley’s grave. The old-timey store is sitting right there, just out of sight, only a few yards from the main road.
Back to that coffee. Owners Steve and Marla Carter directed our attention to the glass jars and vacuum-packed bags of freshly roasted coffee on a shelf in the back. Mrs. Carter said they recently added the coffee, both ground and in whole-bean form, after meeting a local couple who roast and package the beans themselves.
The shop had two blends available in bean form, a breakfast roast and the more robust version we purchased. We’ve been buying a super dark roast lately, and I was initially worried the fresh-roasted stuff from the barn wouldn’t be tough enough to wake me up. After grinding the first batch and running it through, however, I quickly realized how much flavor we’d been missing out on. The beans from Black Barn Produce were incredibly aromatic and produced a delicious brew.
Steve Carter said the local roasting company is a venture of husband and wife Rick and Jaretta Walters, who recently launched Kentucky Mountain Coffee and roast their beans in a dedicated facility on their property during the evening hours.
I looked the company up online and was all grins as I read they are working from Middle Greasy Creek Road in the rural community of Boons Camp in Johnson County, on the other side of Two-Mile Hill where I went to elementary school.
The couple are obviously the industrious types, and offer a full slate of coffee, including some imaginatively titled flavored brews, at the barn as well as through their kymtncoffee.com website.
We also picked up a couple of the barn’s nearly world famous Cupee Cakes and managed to get them home intact. We split one of the decadent delights that evening and I went looking for the other one the next day, only to find an incriminating trail that ended with an empty cup and crumpled paper by my wife’s recliner. I shot her a note reflecting my wounded state and she simply told me I had “more than half” of the previous day’s confection, and added her permission for me to enjoy the few cookies remaining from my visit to Weaver’s Market in Grayson.
I’ll apologize now if you’re craving great coffee and a Cupee Cake, as Black Barn Produce just closed for a brief winter break, and will return to normal operations on Jan. 21.
Of course, in the meantime you can still get the good beans and blends from the Kentucky Mountain Coffee website.
I stopped by the still-new Suplex Tacos on 13th Street in Ashland, across from Artrip’s Market, recently after I noticed they had put up a couple of small signs advertising their new drive-through window.
When they opened the place late last summer, brothers Ray and Sergio Garcia said they absolutely refused to offer drive-up service until they were certain they could offer each customer quick service with no menu compromises.
True to their word, the brothers and staff have aligned their kitchen for the purpose and are now capable of serving a first-class meal just as quickly to your vehicle as they can in the dining area. The brothers say they still have a few adjustments to make, and hope to add a second menu board for the sake of customers in line at the new drive-through window.
I’ve been quite predictable when ordering at Suplex Tacos, sticking primarily to the “Shape Up” portion of the menu. On my recent visits, however, I decided to try the “signature Six-One-Nine Burrito,” which is named for the area code of their former home in California.
At the suggestion of Sergio, I had my 619 loaded with steak (you can also get one with chicken inside) and it was a definite double-fisted meal that more than appeased my lunchtime hunger.
Sergio also reports the breakfast menu at Suplex Tacos is becoming more popular, with The Heavyweight at the top of the suggested-to-try list. “That’s the one with everything on it,” he said, noting a choice of ham, bacon or chorizo on the breakfast burrito.
The brothers also encourage diners to follow their Facebook posts, where they offer coupons and discounts you won’t find anywhere else.
Suplex Tacos is open from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and also offers pickup catering for parties, meetings and events.
For more information or to place an order, visit suplextacos.com or call (606) 420-4230.
Speaking for myself, it would be hard to say I have ever been more miserable than while in the throes of moving a home or office. It is, however, a blessing to know a good place to rent the right truck and equipment for the task.
The Battery Terminal at 3836 Winchester Ave. recently added U-Haul truck and trailer rentals to the batteries and battery-related-products business. For more information, visit uhaul.com/Locations/Truck-Rentals-near-Ashland-KY-41101/050103 or batteryterminal.com. Or to rent your moving equipment today, call (606) 324-9623. Business hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
And, I found some interesting trivia attached to an announcement about the addition of U-Haul at The Battery Terminal. The do-it-yourself moving company was founded by a Navy veteran who grew up during the Great Depression, and tires and gas were still rationed or in short supply during the late 1940s when U-Haul began serving U.S. customers.
While in Grayson
During my journey to Grayson last week I noticed a sign for Lucy’s Diner at a building that once housed Rudy’s Roadside. I couldn’t tell if the place was even open yet, and figured I would just ask if any readers would like to stop by and give the rest of us a report about the place.
TIM PRESTON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2651.