October 15, 2019 News & Features » Cover Story

Favorite

Just Brew It 

After a decade in the roasting business, Blanchard’s opens its first coffee shop on West Broad.

click to enlarge The new Blanchard's at 3121 W Broad St.

Scott Elmquist

The new Blanchard's at 3121 W Broad St.

The pounds of coffee beans in burlap sacks at Blanchard’s Coffee Roasting Co. serve as the ultimate deodorizer — at least that’s what head roaster Seth Bauserman calls them.

Director of education John Kruegler agrees, commenting how people always wonder who’s walking around smelling like coffee beans at the gym. 

The secret’s out. It’s him. 

Shining in his pink-checkered polo, director of marketing Stephen Robertson sighs before tucking the stray pieces of hair behind his ear. 

“Man, I wish I could still smell it.” 

Bauserman and Robertson sit on mismatched chairs, which Robertson says are part of the deal when you open a coffee warehouse. You get a lot of chairs. 

Add “surplus amount of places to sit” to Blanchard’s résumé, which includes a 24-hour vending machine for its coffee, 15 years of roasting experience, more than 10 types of beans and, as of Oct. 7, a shop at 3121 W Broad St. 

Another location in Forest Hill is in the works. 

“It may seem sudden, like we’re taking this huge shift. But really, we’ve been talking about it for 10 years,” Bauserman says. “We love this is with the neighborhood that gave us our start, that really sustained us through the most difficult years.”

He begins to move his hands with grander motions, his eyes widening as he talks about the partnerships that serve as the core to the shop. Sometimes Gallery curates the art while Spacebomb Records is behind the rotating monthly playlist of recent recordings and featured artists. Olivia Wilson at Brenner Pass is the woman behind the bread, Ellwood Thompson’s produces pastries and Veil Brewing helps source the beer.

Yes! There will be beer! And a selection of natural wines. Cheese and charcuterie boards will take guests into the evening, especially with Scott’s Addition’s breweries a short walk away.

Robertson presents hunting down the details as a challenge.

“If you want to sit back in the corner of the room and sip your coffee and try to pick them all out, there’s a ‘Where’s Waldo?’ book of details you can really come back and see over and over again,” he says. 

And with Blanchard’s cultlike following, it’s likely people will do exactly that.

click to enlarge 3121 W Broad St.
  • 3121 W Broad St.

With a location on a quiet street in South Side, having limited hours to buy coffee and being closed on weekends, Blanchard’s has played hard-to-get.

“We’ve made it very awkward for people to have access to us,” Robertson says. “I think that’s part of why so many people who are really intense fans of what we do are such intense fans.”

Bauserman looks down and smiles. He’s hesitant to admit it, but he knows how much this coffee means to people. 

Owner David Blanchard looks up from his stack of contracting papers to mention how a guy named Kevin showed up at the coffee preliminaries Blanchard’s held on Sept. 6 just to hold the stopwatch and help out. He was there for almost 8 hours. 

“‘He said, ‘You guys do all this free stuff for your customers. We just want to find a way to give back to you,’” Blanchard says. “That was the most humbling thing.”

Fast forward to a Wednesday at 9:30 a.m., two days after the shop secretly opened.

Its minimalist, art deco interior is packed with a line nearly out the door and into the parking lot. Bauserman and Robertson hold a meeting in a corner, if you could even call it that. Every edge in the space is curved and smoothed out, a detail that extends to the pastel cafeteria trays coffee is served on. The colors are muted, with the exception of the plants, millennial pink vases and mustard couch that balance it out.

Bauserman and Robertson begin walking around saying “it’s good to see ya!” and “how’s it going?” to nine out of every 10 people who come in. By 10:45, Blanchard makes an appearance, chatting with customers at the long table and offering rainbow cookies.

“We can do it for you now!” Robertson says giddily. 

He’s referring to how Blanchard’s can finally make coffee for people in the way they’ve been preaching. In 2016, he told Style how his mom hasn’t quite picked up how to brew a good cup.

An update? She still ruins his coffee.

Back to the Coffee Issue
Favorite

Tags:

Latest in Cover Story

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Sabrina Moreno

Connect with Style Weekly

Newsletter Sign-Up

The Flash
The Bite
The Scoop

Most Popular Stories

Copyright © 2019 Style Weekly
Richmond's alternative for news, arts, culture and opinion
All rights reserved
Powered by Foundation