Tyler Emerson is general manager of il Lupo Coffee.

Written and photographed by Paul Wolf

Taylor and Anna Triplett weren’t coffee drinkers when they first met.

As school mates at St. Andrew’s Lower School in Fondren, the pair drifted apart but, later, reconnected and fell in love.

It is their love of coffee and travel that brings them to Cultivation Food Hall in LeFleur East as first-time business owners, proprietors of il Lupo Coffee.

As LeFleur East residents who frequented Fondren, the Tripletts saw the potential of The District at Eastover. “It was a no- brainer for us,” Anna said. “It’s nice that it’s down the street. And I can wash the aprons in our laundry room.”

With financing and business knowledge – and no food service experience, the Tripletts looked to Cultivation’s brand consultant, Jonathan Shull, who introduced them to Tyler Emerson.

“He takes his (coffee) knowledge to an almost scientific level,” Anna said of Emerson, their general manager. “It’s rare to find someone as naturally gifted at something as he is with this. He’s generated that same passion he has with coffee to our entire group. That’s 100 percent on Tyler.”

A Jackson area native, Emerson lived in Starkville for two years where he worked at 929 Coffee. It’s also where he discovered North Carolina’s Counter Culture Coffee (which he will use at il Lupo) and developed a drive to make the best cup possible.

“If people have favorite baristas, I want it to be because of their personality, not because they make a drink particularly better than another person,” Emerson said. “I want the continuity between everybody to be on point.”

“From our drip-brewed coffee to every espresso pulled, even our customer service, we’re trying to make sure everything is always the same.”

With il Lupo since May 2018, Emerson said it’s been a long road getting here. “I moved back to Jackson from Starkville in 2017,” he said. “My underlying goal was to be back in our hometown doing coffee in a special and different way.”

The big picture goes beyond coffee. The Tripletts see their investment as just that, a way to plug in to better their hometown.

“We have friends who have left, and we see talent leave the city,” Taylor said. “But things have been trending and developing in a great way. Livability is a huge thing and we want to make Jackson a place we want to live in.”

Already, Taylor believes il Lupo is doing something right.

“We’re overwhelmed and amazed by some of the radars we’ve fallen onto with specialty coffee,” he said. “How in the hell does a 12-foot space fall on the ears of others around the country?”

What’s in the Name?

Inspired by their Italian honeymoon, the Tripletts picked the name il Lupo as a play on the Italian “in bocca al lupo,” translated to “in the mouth of the wolf.” It’s a way of saying “good luck.”

“In serving our guests their coffee, we’re wishing them luck in that moment, whatever they’re venturing off to do,” Anna said.

For Taylor, the shop’s concept takes it even further.

He mentions the Swedish term “Fika.”

“Its definition isn’t singular as much as it is a mindset, totally turning yourself off for 15 minutes, decompressing and having a coffee,” he said. “In my life, as a general philosophy… I grab a cup, maybe for five minutes, but I take time to have the cup, reset and recharge. That goes forgotten in this day and age as crazy as our lives are. Coffee allows you to take a moment to settle down.”

il Lupo at Cultivation Food Hall is open Monday – Thursday, 7 a.m. – 10 p.m., Friday – Saturday, 7 a.m. – 11 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.