Nathan Brown is the proud franchisee of a New Orleans, LA-inspired coffee shop.

However, he didn’t grow up as a coffee consumer. Instead, the graduate of Indiana’s Ball State University developed the interest while working for a Big Four accounting firm, which he described as a “grind house.”

“Working late hours pretty regularly, a part of the culture developed into a habit, and I became an avid coffee drinker,” Brown, 33, told AFROTECH in an interview. “As the years went by, I got more into quality. So, I started off getting any sugared-down caffeine I could find. Then, I graduated to drinking black coffee. Then, I started to be able to decipher the taste of coffee.”

Brown moved from Indiana to Texas in 2015 and became a homeowner four years later. While living in Third Ward, a neighborhood in Houston, TX, he discovered the nearest coffee shop was a 15-minute drive. He then felt led to open a coffee shop closer to home, and it became possible with the help of a family member and four peers whom he met at Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, GA, and corporate events.

PJ’s Coffee Of New Orleans

In June 2023, the group became franchisees of PJ’s Coffee of New Orleans. Brown had previously visited seven New Orleans locations that helped solidify the business decision and was sold after meeting Felton Jones, the company’s roastmaster.

“PJ’s has its own roastmaster. His full-time job is to make sure our beans are of the highest quality,” Brown mentioned. “He’s flying out to farms, he’s taste testing, he knows the farmers. There was no way I could cover that much ground. That’s what kind of led me to the franchise route, and PJ’s kind of elevated because of the identity with the subculture.”

Brown, who also operates an accounting business, recalls encountering various learning curves and growing pains while working to get the venture running. Nevertheless, the labor undertaken was well spent as customers are able to adorn themselves with Mardi Gras elements at the coffee shop as well as use its drive-thru service.

Photo Credit: PJ’s Coffee of New Orleans

Menu Items

Throughout the year, the establishment offers boosted teas, nitro drinks, granitas, cafe au lait, hot mocha, and food items made in-house, such as breakfast sandwiches, croissants, beignets, and egg white bites. Its seasonal New Orleans-inspired drink items include King Cake Latte, King Cake Velvet Ice, and King Cake Cold Brew Shaken Espresso.

Photo Credit: Samantha Dorisca

What makes the drinks all the more special is the quality of the coffee beans, Brown says.

“Two things that we stand on with our quality is making sure that we have the top, I believe, 1%, of coffee beans,” he explained.

He added, “The second thing is that we do what’s called small batch roasting, which I believe is never more than a barrel at a time. Whereas some larger chains have to roast in humongous batches. It’s very hard to get a consistent, high-quality roast when you’re roasting in those large batches that way. So, the small batch roasting process is something that we’re completely committed to even as we scale and get bigger.”

Community Efforts

While the Houston coffee shop is becoming a community hub, it also attaches a higher calling to the company. The business hosts toy and food drives, participates in an extra credit program that offers teacher discounts, and partners with nearby schools.

Education has always been important for Brown, who once wanted to become a teacher, following in his mother’s footsteps.

“I thought it was really important to establish our identity as a coffee shop of the community. I think the school initiative is probably the most important thing,” Brown said. “We’re official partners of Spring Branch ISD (in Houston). From day one, I started laying that framework before we opened.”


In the future, Brown hopes to expand the shop’s footprint and add at least 10 more locations across the city.

“I want to be the franchisee of the city. I want ten. I’m very self-critical and focused on what’s next, but with that being said, success to me would be building a system,” Brown expressed.