Light vs. Dark Roast


Why do we choose to feature lighter roast coffee? Many people associate the color of the bean with the boldness or flavor of the coffee. In part this is due to mass-marketed coffee available in stores and national chains. Much of this coffee is roasted dark to mask inferior beans. Ever get a cup of coffee that tastes charred? That taste comes from over-roasting and burning the beans.

We believe Coffee should be enjoyed, not endured. This is why we choose to roast our beans lighter. Doing so allows us to reveal the complex characteristics of individual beans. Coffee is a crop after all. The beans take on certain characteristics of the environment where they are grown. Our Brazilian beans for example have a cocoa undertone because the plantation where they are grown is surrounded by cocoa plantations. Our Guatemalan beans have a caramel undertone with a slight citrus finish, due to the surrounding crops. The same beans taken to a darker roast are still delicious, but you sacrifice unlocking the complex flavor characteristics.

We roast all of our coffee by hand in small batches. This allows us more control over the  roasting process and ensures consistent quality. Believe me, it’s much easier to roast beans darker and simply worry about the roast profile.  However, you would miss out on the natural sweetness of the coffee bean not to mention notes ranging from floral to cocoa to fruits and citrus!




Caffeine Myths


Based on questions our customers ask and concerns they express over caffeine levels, we’ve come to see that there are a lot if misconceptions about coffee and caffeine.

Let’s dispel a few myths. First off did you know there is actually a recommended daily allowance assigned to caffeine? For healthy adults, the RDA is 200-300mg. Keeping this in mind, an 8oz cup of drip coffee contains 65-120mg of caffeine. Dark roast coffee contains less caffeine than light roast.

Many people confuse the color of the coffee with the strength of the coffee (i.e., dark coffee is strong, harsh and full of caffeine). Likewise people confuse descriptive adjectives with caffeine content and flavor (i.e., “Bold”, “Medium”, “Light”). We can thank the large chain shops for creating the illusion that good coffee should taste strong, harsh, bitter and, should be served in bucket-sized cups!

So, caffeine content is connected to the richness of the roast, just not the way most people imagine. The darker the roast the lighter the caffeine level. Milk and cream have also been shown to decrease caffeine levels.

Another myth is that Espresso contains more caffeine than drip coffee. This isn’t entirely true. A one ounce shot of espresso contains 30-50 mg of caffeine. A standard single-shot of espresso is 1oz. Remember, an 8oz cup of coffee contains 65-120mg of caffeine. Most coffee is served in 12, 16 or 20+ oz cups! Since espresso is a concentrated dose of coffee, the taste is much richer as there is less water diluting the grounds. Consequently, people associate the taste/flavor with caffeine content.

The final myth, “Decaf coffee is caffeine free!” Decaf coffee contains caffeine, just not as much as regular coffee. An 8oz cup contains approximately 6.5 mg of caffeine. Remember, caffeine content is proportional to the volume of coffee ingested.

Coffee should be enjoyed. Even if your goal is to get amped up on the caffeine, shouldn’t the experience be pleasant? If you are worried about caffeine consumption, drink darker roasts, drink smaller cups of coffee, enjoy an espresso or drink decaf.




Gracious People

Image  Each day we enjoy the company of old friends, new friends and, meet many interesting people who quickly become friends. 

A common thread among them is how gracious they are. Everyone wants Johnny Lolita’s to succeed and they want to do whatever they can to help. Old friends and new friends alike have offered up everything from tools to labor to meals as we work hard to get this business to take root. Our friends are so gracious. New acquaintances quickly become new friends. People we enjoy hanging out with and who seem to enjoy are company as well.

In the past week we’ve received the following invitations; The Deputy Consul of Mexico invited us to a concert, A young couple stopping by on a motorcycle ride invited us to ride any of there collection of motorcycles at any time, a local Rancher is whoo-ing me to get into horses, has offered to take me riding and, has offered to board my horse when I get one!, and a Gentleman from my home state of Arizona offered up the keys to his Porsche so Shawn and I can take some time off to relax. 

We’ve only been a part of the La Union community for six weeks now and are making friends at a rapid pace! The people in New Mexico and Texas are very warm, genuine and gracious. It’s refreshing to know that there are still places where people truly want to be your neighbor and friend. 

We Survived!

what doesnt kill you  Today at closing time officially marked one month in business! We survived! We’ve learned a lot in four short weeks and we hope to learn more in the weeks and months to come.

When we decided to open Johnny Lolita’s, we did so with a million ideas, a positive attitude and no concrete plan. Our only real goals have been to see where this adventure takes us, to provide a great place for people to come and hang out  – a place where they look forward to coming to – a place they can’t wait to return, and to have fun!

As I said, we have a million great ideas and we are beginning to put them into play. Much of our first 30 days has been spent getting the building and shop in shape, getting the word out and trying to establish a few basic routines. We have learned a few things in the process. This is a short list in no particular order.

  1. First of all, we have learned that 4:30 am arrives very quickly and 8:00 pm seems like the wee hours of the night.
  2. Given the choice between delicious looking sweetbreads, muffins, and pastries, people will choose the biggest, chocolate covered donut every time.
  3. The moment you pour yourself a cup of coffee or fix yourself a meal, 3 carloads of customers arrive.
  4. Most people are pretty nice. Those that arrive grouchy usually leave a little happier. People just like Shawn and she makes them smile.
  5. We’ve learned a lot about coffee; the beans,blends, roasting, etc.
  6. We’ve learned a lot about pecans, growing, harvesting, varieties, etc.
  7. We make a very good team. We’ve known this for a long time, but it’s nice to know that we function well together no matter what new challenges we face.
  8. We’ve learned to be truly happy with our work and working. We presently work 6 days a week with only Monday’s off. We can’t wait for Tuesday to come so we can get back out to the shop. For me this is an entirely new experience because quitting time and weekends never came fast enough.
  9. We have some really terrific and supportive friends who will do anything to help us succeed.

There are a lot of other things we’ve learned, but for me these are the lessons that really stand out.



photo copy  One of our favorite parts of running the Coffee House is the people we meet. Each day brings someone new through our door.

Some of the interesting folks we’ve met so far include; the daughter of the gentleman who originally owned this building when it was a Gin. She was visiting from Deming, NM, saw that we were open and stopped in to say hello. She explained that originally the building was a Gin servicing the local farmers and that it was only the center room/main structure. Over time her father added the two side rooms to the building, closed the gin and began selling antiques and collectibles. Later her son joined her father and opened an Art Studio in the south room of the building.

This past Sunday we had a group of 30 women bicyclists stop by. They were part of a tour which began in San Diego, CA and will end in St. Augustine, FL. The tour will take them 58 days! Even more impressive was the fact that the women ranged from 56-74 years of age!! They came from all over the U.S. as well as the world. One rider we met was from Australia and another was from New Zealand.

One weekend early on a family was touring highway 28. The parents and sister flew out to El Paso to spend some time with their son who was deploying to Afghanistan. Shawn asked them where they were from and it turns out they were from a small town in North Carolina near where Shawn’s mother grew up. Stranger yet, they knew her family!

And of course there is the local connection as well (to Shawn). It seems that most everyone who comes in either grew up with and went to school with Shawn, went to school with one of Shawn’s brothers or is married to someone who went to school with Shawn.

Each day is a new adventure filled with making new friends or reacquainting ourselves with old friends. And of course there are the special visits from close friends who stop in to say hi, share some coffee and some laughs. Friends are what make this business so much fun!


The Adventure Starts


IMG_1222  Today marks the one year anniversary of our arrival in El Paso! for Shawn this move was a homecoming. For me it was a completely new experience. We chose to move to El Paso from Phoenix for a number of reasons. Being close to friends topped our list. Followed closely by the entrepreneurial opportunities in the area.


When we embarked on this journey, we didn’t know for certain where it would lead. We did know that we wanted to begin a new chapter in our lives. We’ve owned an Executive Recruiting firm since 2005 and knew we wanted to move away from that avocation and try something new.


We considered a number of businesses, but nothing sparked our excitement. The New Year came and went and nothing promising had come along. Just when we decided to put plans for a change on the back burner, an opportunity fell into our laps!


On March 1st, 2013 we opened a Coffee House! Johnny Lolita’s Coffee House to be exact. The name is a combination of our childhood nicknames; John/Johnny and Lolita for Shawn (she will tell you one version of how she came by this name. I have a few different thoughts on how it came about….). We are located on Hwy. 28 in La Union, NM. Right in the heart of Southern New Mexico’s Pecan and Wine country. (3200 S. Hwy. 28 La Union, NM. 88021).


Our primary qualifications for running a Coffee House are 1) we love coffee. 2) we have spent a lot of time hanging out in coffee houses. What more would we need to know?! Not ones to back away from from a challenge, we jumped in with both feet. Shawn has made it her mission to learn to roast coffee beans. Mr. Diaz has taken Shawn under his wing and is imparting his vast knowledge of coffee upon her. She’s rapidly becoming a Master at handcrafted, small-batch roasting. I take a “Supervisory” role in the roasting process. My job is to give unsolicited advice at random intervals while she tends to the physical aspects of roasting.


Presently we have four roasts that we feature (we sell coffee by the cup or by the pound); Johnny’s House roast – a Smooth, mild/medium roast, Lolita’s Dark roast – a Bold, dark roast and yet to be named Espresso roast and Decaf roast. Shawn is working on several other roasts and hopes to have them perfected soon.


Our doors have been open for almost a month. We come home tired every afternoon, go to bed early and rise at 4:30 A.M. six days a week. We can’t wait to get to the Coffee Shop each morning. On our day off, we sit around waiting to go to work! The days fly by! Each day we meet interesting people. We are making friends in the community and already have “regulars”. We’ve been included in four birthday parties, a going away party and a luncheon so far. And, we’ve received invitations for several other parties, one for a Horse! Most importantly we are HAPPY! We are not sure where this ride will take us, but we can say it has certainly been an Adventure!