February 19, 2013

Our Neighbors: Something’s brewing at Brie’s

By Magen McCrarey
Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Bright and welcoming aesthetic taste within Brie’s Brews Coffee House on East Fourth Street not only compliment the beverages, but also the owners, Brishan “Brie” and Jef Powell, who have an inclination for hospitality.  

Brie’s Brews Coffee House unlocked their doors for a soft opening today, Monday Feb. 18.  The Powells have begun their adventure in downtown London as small business owners from Columbus, Ohio and as a married couple for more than a year.  “We have one basic premise — there is no reward without risk,” Jef said.

That premise not only pertains to their new business, Jef says, but also their relationship.  As a retired record producer and touring engineer for musicians such as O.A.R., Maroon 5, John Mayer, The Fray, Usher and Sheryl Crow, among many more, Jef wanted to get off the road and meet Brie in the middle.  The two had both grown up as kids visiting Laurel County, and began their careers in Columbus, Ohio.  They both had mutual friends, spent the majority of their 30s traveling, married others in the same month, separated from their former spouses in the same month and had even bought suburban homes at the same time — but had never met.

“Basically, our life journeys were so similar, it was almost like we were leading parallel lives with the wrong people,” Jef said.

Then, 20 years ago, the two met in passing with mutual friends.  Months later, they reconnected through Facebook and then letter writing.

“We fell in love letter writing — the old fashioned way,” Brie said.  “Which was appropriate for us because we were close to our grandparents and we grew up with them, so we have old fashioned values.”

Brie had moved back home to Laurel County, to get a fresh new start, and away from a career in choreography and modeling.  Meanwhile, Jef was ready to get off the road.  The two married on November, 11, 2011 and began their life in London, a place Jef calls, a “Mayberry” a little slice of America.

“London is a good place to settle with a family,” Brie said.  “I like it here, I may not have liked it much when I was younger, but it has changed so much.”

“I’ve worked in a youth oriented industry all of my life and there has been a cultural shift.  The culture is so youth obsessed, and with that comes a lessening of values, and here, it seems like people do care about what’s going on around them,” Jef said.  “To me, that’s a little refreshing, I like that.”

To compliment the southern charm they’ve received since they’ve begun their life in London, they’ll be offering a Southern Pecan brew at Brie’s Brews.  In addition, they’re offering a unique house blend made up of five different beans from three different countries.  All specialty drinks at the shop will be brewed with Brie’s prized Nuova Simonelli espresso coffee machine.

“We’re not trying to compete with Starbucks, we just want to focus on the downtown community.  We’re dessert people, we like sweet and nutty, so our coffee has a nutty undertone and a sweet finish,” Jef said.  “When people walk in our door, we want to know what their favorite drink is and make it specially for them.”

Although the Powell’s want to be as hospitable as they can to their new community, they said that frankly, they can’t be all things to all people.  But they are open to adapt.

“I approach life like a record, you have to know what the end goal is,” Jef said.  “It’s a big adventure for us.”