Dr. Kenneth Thomas' day job is physician, but a few years ago, he decided he needed a side-hustle, and started brainstorming with two things he loves—beer and coffee. This was right around the time that "everyone and their mama" was beginning a brewery, he said, so he decided coffee was the better choice.
Another thing that happened around that time is that his mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and passed away six months later. That got him thinking about what we put in our bodies daily.
"I definitely don't think that if my mom had switched to a different type of coffee that would have prevented her from getting pancreatic cancer," he said. "But I do think if you can make a product that tasted just as good or better to the consumer and it's good for them, then to me that's a win-win."
When he decided to start Umble Coffee, he found was that Mississippi is something of a "coffee desert" in that it doesn't have that many great local coffee roasters, so it was a field where he thought he could succeed. He also found that by roasting coffee well, he could also do a little good.
"Coffee itself is actually way more healthy than people realize; it's just traditionally never been marketed like that," he said. "On a given day, you, hands down, are going to get the highest amount of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that go into your body in the coffee you drink."
What about red wine, chia seeds, blueberries, green tea? Sure, they've got them, but not like coffee, he said.
With a chemical engineering background, Thomas said he enjoys going deep into what makes coffee taste better—and what makes it better for us.
"I'm a coffee nerd; well, actually, I'm a coffee roasting nerd," he said.
As a roaster, Thomas says he's researched how to ensure his coffee has high nutritional value. He studies elements such as the elevation of the bean's farm and the density of the soil. Even how lightly he roasts his coffee can offer more health benefits. And he's found that a dense coffee bean also makes the best tasting cup of coffee.