It can be hard out there for wholesale coffee roasters. As we gleaned from this year’s Build-Outs of Summer, it seems just about everyone roasts or wants to roast. And those adhering to the no-longer-en-vogue multi-roaster model are more inclined to stick with a few permanent options instead of rotating regularly. And even when they do find a home in a cafe, wholesale-only roasters’ entire consumer interaction is left outside their own hands.
The most obvious solution (if not also the most expensive) is to open a coffee shop of their own. And that’s exactly what Richmond, Virginia’s Blanchard’s Coffee Roasting Co is doing. After 14 years in existence, Blanchard’s is opening not one but two shops in as many years.
The expansion into the cafe space will be gradual for the company; the first location—in a “historic building in the 3100 block of West Broad Street, Richmond,” per a press release—is scheduled to be open some time in the summer of 2019. The second location, “part of a new mixed use development on Richmond’s Forest Hill Avenue,” is expected to fruition in spring of the following year. Blanchard’s will work with architectural design firm Fultz & Singh Architects on both locations.
For founder David Blanchard, these cafes are a long time coming. “We have thought about opening a cafe every year for the last 10 years. However, the momentum of our business has always pushed us to further our investment in roasting infrastructure,” Blanchard tells Sprudge. But it wasn’t until a family vacation at the end of 2018 that finally convinced him to put the wheels in motion.
“My wife, Kelly, two daughters, Molly and Ann-Cason, and I spent a week in San Francisco. One of our vacation traditions is to visit local cafes, and I witnessed a light click on in my children’s minds as we visited cafes in San Francisco and Santa Cruz. They have been around coffee their entire lives, but they saw coffee from a different point of view in on that trip,” Blanchard states. “As we were flying home, I thought about Molly and Ann-Cason’s coffee ‘enlightenment’ and thought about our farmer relationships. Blanchard’s brick and mortar cafes would give us a larger stage to tell coffee’s story from our perspective as roasters. Cafes would force us to double down on education, incorporating educational opportunities for both our wholesale partners and retail clients alike, creating a robust platform from which we can push sustainable coffee culture further in our community and beyond.”
These cafes are just the start for Blanchard’s expansion plans. There are murmurs of other projects in the works beyond Richmond that have yet to be finalized. For now, they are doing the extremely difficult task of building two coffee shops at the same time. They are taking control of their narrative and expanding the platform upon which they can tell their stories and of those they work with. For more information, visit Blanchard’s Coffee Roasting Co’s official website.
Top image via Blanchard’s