First Look: French Truck Coffee opens Friday, bringing its can’t-miss-’em colors to Mid City

The pop of canary yellow will catch your eye first. The brightly painted building that houses Baton Rouge’s first French Truck Coffee is unlike any other in the city.

“When it’s cloudy out, this building makes it feel sunny,”  French Truck Coffee owner Geoffrey Meeker says. “We’re doing serious coffee, so it needs to feel fun.”

The newly remodeled building stands out on the corner of Government Street and Kenmore Avenue. When Meeker started the New Orleans-based coffee franchise in his laundry room five years ago, he knew he needed a hook to set his brand apart from popular chains. The can’t-miss-’em color—combined with inspiration from Louisiana’s French influences—became a signature for the company. 

While vacationing in Bordeaux, France, Meeker immediately fell in love with the country’s unmistakable Citroën trucks, inspiring the business’ namesake and trademark delivery trucks. He was inspired to paint his buildings in bold shades of blue and yellow after spying similar scenes during a stay in the Caribbean following Hurricane Katrina.

Now, Meeker owns five other French Truck locations, with three in New Orleans and two in Memphis, Tennessee. The Baton Rouge location will be the sixth and largest yet.

The interior features bright blue brick walls and high, exposed ceilings with hanging Edison bulbs, along with a tiled bar and wooden counter. The goal is to have a sophisticated feel without seeming unapproachable or pretentious, Meeker says. It’s light and open, with a modern and minimalist vibe that’s still fun.

The aim is to be another step above a regular coffee shop, Meeker says, by roasting coffee on site and offering a full breakfast and lunch menu. French Truck direct sources its coffee from farmers all over the world, and sells it one to two days after roasting, Meeker says.

“The difference between what we do and what people are used to is pretty stark,” he says, speaking of their roasting philosophy.

French Truck’s opening on Friday will signal the end of a two-year process for Meeker. He’d been looking for the perfect spot in Baton Rouge for a while before he signed the lease last fall. Signing just after the August flood led to a slow construction process. Meeker chose Government Street because of the expected growth in the area.

Baton Rouge is already full of quality, locally grown coffee shops such as Magpie Cafe, Highland Coffees and Brew Ha Ha!, but Meeker sees French Truck meshing well with them. He cites the growing brewery scene in New Orleans, and the sense of camaraderie among those businesses as they support and help build each other up. 

He’s also already begun collaborating with Baton Rouge businesses. French Truck’s Baton Rouge menu will be the same as other locations, but with pastry options direct from Kalurah Street Grill’s team. (Also: Read our recent interview with K Street’s pastry chef here.)

Different toast options, soups, salads and pressed sandwiches are featured on the menu, as well as French Truck staples such as the croissant sandwich and waffle sandwich. Other breakfast options include sweet and savory quinoa bowls and French toast. French Truck will offer 10 single origin coffees and four blends. The cafe will be set up counter service-style and will be have seating for 80.

The shop will also sell French Truck’s bagged coffee and merchandise and wholesale to Baton Rouge retailers. You can currently find their coffee at The Ruby Slipper Cafe, The Crown Bistro and Whole Foods.

Meeker plans for the location to host cupping events and roastery tours in the future, similar to a brewery. Additionally, they want to install a front patio facing Government Street soon, he says.

French Truck Coffee will be open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m.-6 p.m., and 8 a.m.-6 p.m. on weekends. frenchtruckcoffee.com

Click the photos in the gallery below to enlarge.