just off busy hendersonville road, south of the biltmore estate and biltmore village, you can find biltmore coffee traders. set back from the road a bit, the cute, red cottage looks inviting and, based on my previous experiences, i knew to let all expectations fall to the wayside. i just parked my car and went inside.
i opened the screen door and entered a cozy, little room filled with the aroma of coffee, handmade things, and baked goods. it all felt very personal and homey. it was raw, organic, simple. there were bookshelves of coffee and other coffee gadgets, a counter with homemade goodies, a couple of tables and a sofa, a big, yellow coffee bean roaster, and giant burlap coffee bags (filled with beans) in various places throughout the space. on the sofa were 4-5 bin aluminum bins with coffee beans in them…. drying, or something. sadly, i don’t now the process of roasting beans.
the man behind the counter asked me what i wanted, and i looked up at the menu, saying “coffee. i know i want some coffee.” i was so overwhelmed and soaking in everything i was seeing in this tiny space. i finally pulled it together and ordered a muddy chai. i can’t remember exactly what that was right now. something with espresso and chai. but, different from a dirty chai.
while he was preparing my chai, i looked around and began to feel a bit nervous about how i was going to take photos without being totally obvious or watched by the two people sitting at the tables. the lady that was at the table had to be the owner, i thought to myself. she had her computer with her, and a portable telephone. so, i asked. sure enough, it was laura – the wife in the husband/wife team who owns, roasts, and runs this cozy cafe.
i sat down at the table beside laura and began explaining who i was, what i was doing. i felt an instant connection with her. holding a conversation with her was so effortless and so enjoyable. we chatted back and forth for a long time, discussing her shop and the big plans for biltmore coffee traders. though we discussed business-y things, it was fun and personal.
ok. a little about the plans for the cafe. i noticed that there was a space off of the little room where i was. that space was empty and unfinished. clearly something was going on. and laura explained that they are doing an addition. but, in addition to the addition, they are planning a sort of re-launch in the coming months. a new logo. new name. lots of new stuff. and very exciting! so, of course, this chick is headed back often to see the progress… and i’ll be sure to post again about the cafe when all the new stuff is set!
as laura and i kept chatting away, customers were coming in one at a time. mostly regulars. and people from all walks of life. young twenties who wanted coffee to go, or a milkshake to stay. a retired man buying tons of coffee beans for a wedding. a postman taking a break with a cup of coffee and a peanut butter cookie – which he shared with me, and it was sooooo delicious. and a retired man who had stories galore to share with me. oh, and i can’t forget the drive-in window where people come & get coffee to go. how cool is that?
well, i sat there, in that little, simple cafe space, with no wi-fi internet, and talked with different people for the entire three hours that i was there. it was truly amazing. the welcoming, community feeling was incredible. i laughed with the postman’s little angel who was tazed by his little devil – his conscience telling him not to eat another cookie, but he did anyway. i conversed for about 45 minutes with a retired man, and we discovered we had tons of connections all across nc – lived in the same cities, both went to seminary, and so much more. and i just saw in awe, with my head in my hands, jaw dropped open, as i listen to him talk about the four years he spent travelings all across the usa, moving from town to town.
it was incredible, this feeling that i had for the entire three hours that i was there. so simple. so real. so personal. and on top of it, laura and her husband work super hard to make their cafe, which they clearly love, a place that focuses on local, organic, fair-trade, and community-oriented goods. they are living their dream, working hard in order to do it, but only wanting to live the life that they want and provide the asheville community with a place to come and be a part of a cafe that has a heart. laura said it best when she was describing her cafe… “it’s a granola place.” for those of you who don’t know, granola things are known to be earthy, organic, real, local, grassroots, leftist, accepting, diverse, close to nature. and she was right. biltmore coffee traders is all of those things – and it doesn’t matter who you are, you are welcome. i promise you, based on what i saw, that all people feel welcomed there as well.
so, if you’re in the area, you’ve gotta make sure to visit the cafe after the “re-launch”. but, you really don’t need to wait until then. go on over now. i’ll meet you there. we can have some yummy coffee & goodies. and sit and chat for as long as we want.