by Jesse Crow

Twenty years ago, in July 1993, Janice and Dennis Cameron became the owners of Cups an Espresso Café in Fondren.

Little did they know, their shop would become a building block of Fondren. Located on Old Canton Road, the coffee shop caters to locals and college students alike. Their late hours and back study room provide the tools (coffee) and space to study, while the main room and front porch create a gathering place for the community.

A factor in their decision to become owners of Cups was their love of coffee and espresso, which grew through their travels.

“We traveled a lot and always had a passion to go to small (coffee and espresso) operations of any kind because it’s artisan; it’s a hands-on product,” she said. “We’re passionate about coffee, music and art. What better than to own (Cups) and develop it and to use our vision and ambition to continue it?”

At the root of coffee, lies community. “Coffee is a way to have a conversation with someone across the table,” Cameron explained. “It’s a meeting of people. It’s the perfect complement to (conversations). Not just the coffee and espresso itself, but the service and the inspiration that comes from talking to people in espresso shops.”

Creating an inclusive space for all to gather is something Cups prides itself on.“My mission has always been to provide a warm and comfortable environment for people of all aspects to come and enjoy,” said Cameron. “There’s coffee, art and music. There’s a place for everyone.”

Cody Cox manages the flagship Fondren store

Cups prides itself on supporting local and giving local artists and musicians a space to showcase their talents. “Our community has so much talent. We strive to maintain what Fondren is all about–it’s about people and community,” she said. “We’ve done our very best to provide an outlet for all people to be. Part of a community is having a place to go, to be able to stay in the community.”

Another aspect of Cups’ commitment to local is their coffee itself. They have locally roasted all of their coffee since 1994. Cups, which has its roots in Fondren, now has eleven locations in

the Jackson metro area. Many of the ten additional locations are owned or managed by former employees of Cups’ Fondren location.

“The expansion started slowly. We hadn’t planned on it; it wasn’t part of our forecasting. People came to us interested in opening another location,” Cameron says.“It’s very humbling and rewarding in many ways. So many people, young and old, come through the doors and I have met so many people that I never would have otherwise. I hear about how having Cups in the neighborhood is a good thing. It means everything. It’s very rewarding to have young people work in a creative environment.”