As one of the world's most traded commodities, coffee represents a $50 billion industry, second only to oil. The increasing popularity of coffee has spurred the success for CC's Coffee Houses, a chain that began in the New Orleans area and has recently branched into all parts of Louisiana, Texas and Alabama. In 1995, CC's approached Bill Lasseter of Diniz Design in Baton Rouge, LA, to provide the slate and granite for the company's coffeehouses. Lasseter said he went with the first thing that came to his mind. "Since a great deal of the finest coffee originated in Brazil, the use of natural stone, chiefly Brazilian granite and Brazilian Multicolor Ferrous slate, made a marriage unlike any other," he said.

Keeping in mind that CC's boasts that it is the "premiere coffeehouse of the South," Lasseter said the overall design goal was to "elicit an atmosphere reminiscent of Old World New Orleans with elegance, and a sense of relaxed Southern charm." Before deciding on the Brazilian material, Lasseter did consider some solid slate due to its versatility to evoke both a "tropical and Old World feel." However, "the Brazilian stone just worked perfectly, it was synchronistic and tied in with all of the interior elements," he said.

An average of 2,000 square feet of Brazilian Multicolor Ferrous slate in 16- x16-inch tiles was used per store. The slate was intended to visually mimic the various types of coffee beans in a variety of roasting stages. The slate's variegation of color promoted what Lasseter called a "bursting of energy and flavor. The floor was articulated on a grid for ease of patron orientation and for a sense of southern relaxed formality." There was a logical placement of visual texture and color. The tiles were not randomly laid, as each one was selected to produce "a pleasing aesthetic mix to delight the senses," Lasseter said.

To continue with the Brazilian theme, a variety of 2 cm-thick Brazilian granite tables and countertops with demi-bull edge profiles were used to complement and enhance the overall design goal. The three main surface areas that used granite included the main and secondary service counters, the condiment bar and the 30-inch round tabletops for patron's general seating. The Brazilian granites used included: Euro Green, Giallo Nova, Giallo Veneziano, San Francisco Olive and Venetian Green. "The rich palette of gold and greens, strongly enhance the Brazilian Multicolor Ferrous slate and gave a unique sense of flow throughout the interior spaces," Lasseter said.

The slate and granite are maintenance-free, only requiring a vacuum and/or damp-mop for cleaning. Due to the multiple locations of CC's coffeehouses, a variety of installers for the slate and granite were employed. Consistent throughout installation, Aqua Mix's Telo-sealer and Brazilian Ferrous sealer were used. Lasseter reports that reaction to the project has been "outstanding and has generated a great deal of demand for the Brazilian products."