JAMES & LINA JACOBS
CO-OWNERS OF MAGPIE CAFE
Magpie Cafe’s downtown location inside the Commerce Building was perhaps Baton Rouge’s most-anticipated and most-talked-about restaurant opening of 2016, but five years ago—when owners James and Lina Jacobs were sketching out a menu for the original Perkins Overpass location—it seemed impossible. As their franchise has grown, the Jacobses’ attention to detail in every last coffee bean, golden-brown scone and tailored vegan entree hasn’t wavered, and they’re one of the only restaurants in the city offering fresh vegetarian, vegan and paleo options daily. They’ve even got their hands in a budding development project in south Baton Rouge for 2017, where they’re eyeing a small satellite location. This power couple is now leading the culinary revitalization of downtown Baton Rouge and beyond, one crusty loaf of bread and Instagrammable mug of coffee at a time. magpiecafe-brla.com
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What makes their coffee better than the rest:
“When we decided to do the business, we decided that we were going to bring coffee to Baton Rouge that Baton Rouge didn’t have, so we actually went to Portland and studied coffee from successful businesses up there and got trained on espresso machines so we could come back and bring that coffee here,” James says.
On the cultural vision for Magpie:
“We just decided that we were going to be committed to doing the things that each of us loved—him the coffee, me the food. And we were going to create a space that when people came in, they felt loved, they felt that they could be themselves, and there was just a sense of community,” Lina says.
On the diverse crowd the downtown location has drawn:
“It’s fantastic to walk in here at 4:30 and see half the seats taken. And to come in in that 5-to-8 o’clock time and see people doing all different types of things—meeting up at the bar having cocktails, with their laptops doing business, photographers editing images, students studying with a glass of wine. … We had somebody last night from the hotel down the street coming over with his briefcase, holed up in a corner with a beer while he’s knocking out his email,” James says.
Make the perfect latte
“The foundation is the beans—sourcing the right beans—and then having a really exacting eye for detail for how the espresso is pulled and texturing the milk just so that the latte art just falls out of the pitcher,” James says.
Make the perfect scone
“The trick is to use really cold butter for a very delicate crumb. Play with different flavors based on what’s seasonal. My favorite combinations to use are lemon ginger, fig vanilla and something different like blood orange pistachio,” Lina says.
This article was originally published in the January 2017 issue of 225 Magazine.