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Roasting and Retail Work Together at Cooperative Coffee Roasters in Asheville

Cooperative Coffee Roasters Asheville inside

Inside the new Cooperative Coffee Roasters cafe in Asheville, North Carolina. All images courtesy of Cooperative Coffee Roasters.

It’s onward and upward for Cooperative Coffee Roasters in Asheville, North Carolina, as the company recently opened its first cafe upstairs from its roastery. 

In the 2,000-square-foot street-level space that was previously occupied by the Urban Orchards cidery tap room, Cooperative Coffee has added windows, lighting and plenty of color that recalls the company’s vivid and nature-inspired packaging. 

Cooperative Coffee Roasters Asheville espresso

“For the longest time, a lot of coffee packaging and cafe environments have been pretty minimal and sparse,” Cooperative Coffee Roasters Co-Founder Matt McDaniel told Daily Coffee News. “We’ve always wanted to push against that a little bit and create something a little more maximal, a little more of a statement, both for our packaging and the space itself.”

The formerly black-painted ceiling and rafters were lightened up with sky-like teal and cloudy whites. Custom orange glass pendants now light a concrete counter that includes speckles of mica and embedded semi-precious stones. New windows installed towards the back of the space and behind the bar brightening the workspace for baristas.

Cooperative Coffee Roasters Asheville bar

“I’ve been in coffee for a really long time, since I was 18,” said McDaniel. “I’ve worked at a lot of shops in the past and wanted to be really intentional about bar flow, and have something that was smooth, flow nicely and was easy to work in as a barista.”

In addition to workflow, the shop also bolsters cash flow for its employees. As a member of the organization Just Economics of Western North Carolina, Cooperative Coffee’s roastery and shop have pledged to pay at least the Buncombe County living wage rate of $22.10 per hour. A profit-sharing system is also in place for all workers.

“We try to create a culture of equity and fairness and inclusion, despite the fact that Katie [McDaniel] and I at this point are the only owners in the business,” said McDaniel. “But we definitely have a willingness and an openness to what different organizational structures could look like as we continue down the road.”

Cooperative Coffee Roasters Asheville seating

While CCR is not actually a cooperative on paper, the McDaniels have explored various models regarding a cooperative structure or worker ownership since the company’s founding as an LLC is 2019. 

“When we’ve had conversations as a group about some sort of worker ownership, what it would look like to buy in and then transform the LLC into a co-op, there’s been a lot of hesitation, actually,” said Matt McDaniel. “You know, it’s one thing to have a great job and enjoy what you do, but it’s another thing to really buy into that in a way that kind of increases the level of risk of responsibility. So, we’ve hit some roadblocks around trying to convert into a literal co-op. It’s been interesting for us, and it’s forced us to reevaluate some of our assumptions.”

Cooperative Coffee Roasters Asheville menu

The McDaniels originally started roasting with a 6-kilo machine built by Clearwater, Florida-based Roaster Dynamics at a 700-square-foot space in North Ashville, and they’ve since added a 15-kilo Loring machine. The roastery and cafe building is built into a hill, offering roastery loading access in the back of the facility. 

The property also includes what Matt McDaniel called “the secret garden,” a shaded, dog-friendly 900-square-foot patio with steps downhill to a a 936-square-foot enclosed courtyard.

Cooperative Coffee Roasters Asheville 1

CCR may soon be adding more public education opportunities, while building its wholesale operation. However, there are no immediate plans for more cafes. 

“If the roastery can function and take care of the needs of all the people involved, and if the cafe can do well enough to support the staff and the community and be the third place that coffee shops tend to be for the neighborhoods that they’re located in, that’s enough. I don’t think we have to grow, grow, grow,” said McDaniel. “I don’t identify as an entrepreneur. We found our way into roasting and doing wholesale coffee in Asheville, and it’s kind of snowballed to be this thing and it’s great and we love it, but we’re not doing business for the sake of business. We’re doing coffee because we really love coffee.”

Cooperative Coffee Shop is located at 210 Haywood Rd in Asheville, NC. Tell DCN’s editors about your new coffee shop or roastery here

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