When I moved from Portland to Richmond, I was worried about leaving the fabulous culinary culture of the Pacific Northwest. To my pleasant surprise, I quickly fell in love with Richmond’s diverse, independent scene where creativity is rewarded by loyal customers.
While some things are very similar to Portland, e.g. the river and running culture, the climate is very different. I don’t miss the gray winters but wouldn’t mind some 75 degree summer days amidst the 95+ degree stretches! Most people I knew in Portland, including myself, didn’t have air-conditioning. I couldn’t imagine living here without it.
Richmond also has a similar feel from a hipster culture, though it’s much more balanced. People don’t seem to try new things here just to be different and counter-culture, there seems to be a greater sense of intention behind why it needs to be done different.
The one thing I found that was missing here was consistently good coffee, especially single-origin drip and properly extracted espresso. While there were a couple great independent shops, the bar wasn’t high enough, with many independent shops doing lesser quality than Starbucks.
So in 2012, I started with a 4×8 mobile trailer, managing to squeeze in a commercial espresso machine, drip brewer and everything else that we needed to make great coffee. We bounced around, trying to find the right spot and see if Richmond had a palate for better coffee. A couple years after testing the waters, we landed with our brick-and-mortar, which we dubbed ‘The Lab’, on the VCU campus in a beautifully restored building.
Our stationary space enabled us to do even more, adding single cup pour-overs, a couple new options for iced coffee and most important, a rotating guest-roaster program. We hope you stop by, ask questions and experience ‘Brewing Enlightenment’.