Brown Water Ramble: Free Bird Coffee Co.
Our quest to find why so many good times in the woods include whiskey has led us to consider that Brown Water Ramble (BWR) is not exclusive to the finest spirits of Scotland, Ireland and Kentucky. Far from being connoisseurs of bourbon, scotch and the like we know so many different beverages have become part of our ritual and chief among those is the “other brown water” – coffee!
Much of our world ceases to begin without the first fresh pot of java, and at TSG HQ we are no exception. Luckily, our days start with a big step up from gas station brew, thanks to our amazing partnership with the crew at Free Bird Coffee Co.
Don’t worry, we are not in the business of hitting The Gentry with a shameless plug (unless it's for TSG Apparel, of course), we just love to introduce you to our friends and their top notch coffee.
If you are unfamiliar with Free Bird Coffee, the best advice is to fix that real quick, because not only are they serving up some of the best roasts available, they also have some of the most refreshing and hilarious social content that stands above the onslaught of noise online marketing tends to be.
Much of their authenticity for making such a great product, while having fun doing so makes them good company and like-minded partners for Team TSG.
Today we are chatting with the founder of Free Bird Coffee Co. and U.S. Navy Seal, Alex Anderson.
Tell us a little bit about the origins of Free Bird Coffee?
Free Bird Coffee started as a mixed hobby in college with some friends from back home in Louisiana. We started messing around brewing beer and coffee. After College I joined the Navy and they went on to different careers. For a decade, I only roasted coffee at home for myself or friends and family around the holidays. We never thought it would turn into a full blown business. But coffee is a lot easier to make than beer! lol
How did you fall in with the likes of The Sporting Gent?
As we all know the coffee market is extremely saturated, so we wanted a way to stand out among all of the other brands. We also wanted a brand that represented who we are as individuals. We decided to design all our bags in different Camouflage patterns. We also wanted a clean and cool brand we aligned with instead of the run of the mill brands. My buddy was given a hoodie in the Oxbow TSG pattern and I thought it looked awesome, so I figured why not reach out and see if TSG would be interested.
As a small upstarting business we really didn’t have anything to lose and I totally expected Marc to tell me to F*** off, LOL. Instead he turned out to be one of the coolest and chillest dudes, and I’m glad he gave us a chance!
For all of us civilians, how does one run a coffee company and also be a special operator?
Luckily, I have a strong support group of friends and family. I spend a lot of time on the road, training and deployments also take me away from the day to day of the business. When I’m unable to ship gear and coffee myself, we have a plan to cover the times when I’m gone. Honestly it’s been fun and I’m glad we started this business, but there are the days when you just want to say F*** it.
As a maker of the other brown water (coffee), how often do you find yourself enjoying brown liquor?
Probably more often than I should, I love roasting good coffee and messing around with whiskey infused flavors and different blends, but at heart we wish we were a whiskey or beer brand! There is nothing better than sitting around a campfire sipping some whiskey with friends and family!
With the BWR series we love to talk about how time spent outdoors, amongst friends, can often be enhanced by a responsibly- enjoyed drink-in-hand; can you think of time that was true for you?
Growing up in New Orleans, every aspect of life from hunting, to fishing, to just sitting on the front porch revolved around a drink in hand! Some might say that’s a little crazy, but for me it’s great memories and it shaped me to enjoy a drink in hand and associate that with the good times!
Times were different, I remember sitting in the duck blind with my uncles smoking cowboy killers and drinking Coors Banquets. The bottom of the blind would be littered with beer cans and shotgun shells! And if the birds weren’t biting (inside joke) we spent the rest of the day fishing for speckled trout and bull reds.
One of the best things about Free Bird Coffee, aside from the amazing quality, are the names of your blends. How do you guys come up with gems like “Good Morning Vietnam”?
When we first decided to start Free Bird Coffee Co., I said from the very beginning I didn’t want to be some weird stuck up coffee company. I wanted to make good coffee for men and women like ourselves. We wanted to keep it fun and light hearted.
Our first camo roast was Delta Dawn. Delta Dawn represents a lot for us. We always loved the old school vintage duck hunting camo that my grandpa and dad wore. Having a piece passed down was like hunting gold! Delta Dawn also represented the Mississippi Delta that we spent so many of our early mornings hunting ducks, deer, dove, turkey and fishing everything “the Delta” has to offer.
The final aspect with camouflage was that the U.S. Marines used the pattern during the Second World War in the Pacific Theater. Coming from a family with many members that have served in all [military] branches, this was very important to us as a brand.
Continuing with that theme into Good Morning Vietnam, the “tiger stripe” camo pattern was used by some of America’s most badass operators. Paying homage to the guys in Vietnam that set the foundation for guys like us [U.S. Navy SEALs], but also keeping it lighthearted with that infamous line by Robin Williams (from the 1987 movie of the same name) is important to who we are as a brand.
White Lightning Roast is one of your newest offerings, is this as high proof as real white lightning (moonshine)?
Ha. White Lightning Whiskey Blend has been a huge hit for us and one of our best selling roasts, but I've had some friends tell me it didn’t have as much whiskey kick as they would like. I have been messing with different whiskey blends like a mad scientist, trying to find the perfect flavor and kick for the day-to-day drinker and the alcoholic, LOL.
Unfortunately our white lightning doesn’t have any proof, otherwise we would have to apply for a liquor license. We are currently working to make it a staple and constant roast in our line up!
Moonshine is the ancestor to fine brown spirits, have you ever had any run-ins with white-lighting that you are permitted to speak about?
Nothing illegal, but once again growing up in Louisiana provided unique experiences with moonshine and homemade wine! Some of the best and strongest stuff I have drank in my life was homemade moonshine or home wine. The holidays and hunting camps are the best time for homemade spirits. Friends and family love gifting a mason jar with a bow on top stuffed with cherries soaking in that year's homemade moonshine!
Both coffee and whiskey are steeped in tradition and ritual, in your travels what makes these two beverages so universal to good times?
I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing many different cultures on my travels. It’s been truly humbling breaking bread with some of the most wealthy and influential people as well as the poorest forgotten people in the world…at the end of the day, you realize every country and culture has good and bad people. One common that always bridges the gap between good, bad, poor or rich is coffee, alcohol and tea!
Every tradition revolves around morning meetings, midday lunch and evening celebrations, and all of these gatherings have coffee and alcohol! It's a means of connection. There is just something about sharing a meal and drink with someone. It breaks down walls and is a universal language. Even with language barriers, if you share a drink with a man, it’s a sign of mutual respect that every tradition and ritual can get behind! For many, whiskey and coffee are a universal language. Unless you’re in Eastern Block Europe, then it's vodka with breakfast.
Alex, we really want to say a huge thank you for your time, and even more so for your military service, what is up next for Free Bird Coffee Co.?
Thank y’all for allowing me to be a part of the TSG family. Currently we are working on a cold brew in a can as well as coffee in a tea bag for the hunter and hiker to make in their Jet Boil. And eventually transitioning Free Bird Coffee into Coffee and Beer! LOL
We normally like to close out with rapid fire, and we know you are no stranger to that, so here we go:
Favorite camo pattern outside of Oxbow?
Bourbon or Scotch?
Currently Scotch but for the last 15 years Bourbon
Shooting Birds or catching fish?
Shooting Birds, but I’ve been doing way more fishing lately!
Best Free Bird blend for making an "Irish Coffee"?
Oxbow! Oxbow is our Colombian roast that has that smooth flavor but enough kick to start my day!
Oxbow Columbian Roast is the love child of our iconic vintage camo pattern and the tasty offerings from Free Bird. Both ground and whole bean options are available in shop and through our online store.