The sun is rising for coffee lovers in and around the small town of Floyd, Virginia, where homegrown coffee company Red Rooster Coffee has been applying the finishing touches its expansive new roastery and retail cafe.
After spending a year and half renovating an old furniture store building, the Red Rooster relocated the roastery back in August, and at the end of last month, opened the doors to the flagship retail shop. The company now occupies some 11,000 square feet of space for production and retail, up from 900 previously. Said RR Sales Manager Jolie Greatorex, “It’s been pretty epic.”
Roasting production now occupies roughly 3,500 square feet, including room for a new Diedrich IR-25 machine. On the second level, with the building’s preexisting industrial look softened a bit with rounded corners, bright colors, and plenty of reclaimed wood, the company now houses its cupping and training lab, its tea business, Swallowtail Tea, and its growing in-house simple syrup and extract business called J.T. Copper. Both floors feature seating for guests.
“In the cafe, it was all about having old meet new in a tasteful way,” Red Rooster Co-Founder Haden Polseno-Hensley told Daily Coffee News, adding that the renovation exposed 75-year-old steel and oak beams in contrast with custom bar and table woodwork by This Was A Tree and lighting by local Crenshaw Lighting, whose original and restoration lighting appears in historic and modern institutions across the country, including United States Supreme Court building in Washington, DC and the Paramount Theater in Boston.
“The use of poplar as the main wood in the tables, the bar, and the stairs draws the customer back to the sense of being rooted in Appalachia, though it’s rarely used in such high-end woodworking,” said Polseno-Hensley. A dramatic tile display behind the bar further sets the shop’s tone.
Polseno-Hensley runs the close-knit family and community-oriented business along with his wife, Rose McCutchan. Rose’s sister Grace McCutchan is a roaster and trainer for the company; barista and trainer Jessica Messer is a seventh-generation Floyd native; and husband and wife Tony and Jolie Greatorex are head roaster and sales manager, respectively.
“We try to make coffee approachable and fun for the customer so that ‘learning’ about coffee doesn’t feel burdensome,” Polseno-Hensley said. “This means that we roast across the spectrum from pretty light up to a Vienna roast for one of our blends. But we always try to do what’s best for the individual coffee, which considering the high quality of green coffee we try to buy, usually puts us on the medium to light end of the spectrum for single origins.”
On the flagship bar shines a 2-group Slayer Steam espresso machine paired with two Mahlkonig K-30 Vario Air grinders and a Mahlkonig Peak, all for various espressos. A Mahlkonig EK-43 grinds for manual and batch brew, the latter of which emerges from a white Wilbur Curtis G4 Thermopro 1-gallon brewer.
For its thoroughly engrossing coffee label artwork and other graphic branding, the company has worked with a variety of designers.
“We started out with a woman named Susan Lau, whom I consider to be a genius,” said Polseno-Hensley. “She’s a close friend, but she lives in Kuala Lumpur, which makes it difficult to work with her all the time. We still use her for our Ethiopian and our Colombian bags because her eye for the indigenous art of the country is so keen.”
For other current products and projects the company works with Josh Gibson at Giant Step Design, whose work incorporates a sort of vintage National Park poster art influence.
“We actually have each bag locally printed by hand,” Polseno-Hensley said. “This means that the colors just pop off the bag really well and they have an incredible feel to them, as if each is a piece of art, which it kind of is.”
From here the company will be focusing on developing the Swallowtail Tea business with its own website launch next month, after also rolling out the J.T. Copper brand of extracts and syrups to Red Rooster wholesale accounts this Spring, all the while enjoying its spacious and attractive new digs.
“We love having everything under one roof right now and we just want to try to draw customers up to Floyd to check out the new spot, tour the roastery, take a brewing class, and learn more about us,” said Polseno-Hensley. “We’re 18 miles off the interstate, so it’s a little bit of a hike, but it’s worth it.”