Good coffee doesn’t just exist in bi-coastal metropolitan hubs anymore. In 2017, it is anywhere, and it is everywhere. Case in point: Cure Coffeehouse in Smithfield, Virginia. Though a coastal city, Smithfield is hardly a hub, home to little over 8,000 residents. You’d certainly be forgiven for not knowing the town’s motto of “ham, history, and hospitality.”
And you can get upwards of all three at Cure’s brand new location. Setting up shot in an 80-year-old building and keeping a focus on community (and maybe having a pork product or two in their in-house prepared break, lunch, and tapas dinner options), Cure is framing high quality Counter Culture coffee in a local context. This isn’t the big city of Norfolk 30 miles southeast, home of the original Cure cafe. This is Smithfield, Virginia, and this is Cure Coffeehouse.
As told to Sprudge by Kari Redman.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
Cure is “the little coffee shop that could” in the historic Freemason district of downtown Norfolk, Viriginia. We opened in February of 2011 under owners Mike Aston and Chris Shelton, two childhood best friends from Smithfield. They had very little knowledge of the coffee and restaurant industry, but had (and still do) a dedication to growing a community and creating an environment to help people thrive in their day-to-day routines and passions. Cure has become a place where dreams grow, knowledge is poured out, relationships are built, and excellent, well-crafted coffee is king. We’ve faced obstacles in our six-plus years that have brought us into a place of great strength and humble appreciation for the people who walk through our doors; in summer of 2015, the few-hundred pound terra cotta awning on the entire building that houses our shop collapsed suddenly. There was an immediate response of help from fellow businesses and customers who made our transition into being “homeless” for a couple of months as we wondered if our shop would survive so much easier.
Because of the care we received from our community, we made it our biggest mission to give back to them and create the best atmosphere and give the greatest product and service that makes Cure feel like a second home for our customers. We solely serve Counter Culture Coffee and are thrilled to have such a wonderful relationship with their team. Our staff has gone through extensive hands-on training provided by Counter Culture, which has served to light a passion for sharing knowledge and honing the skills of each barista we have on staff. We love our product, love what we do, and love to share it with everyone who comes by. We firmly believe in challenging ourselves to create a great product each and every day and we are always adjusting and changing as each roast comes in and changes with the seasons. We serve drip, pour-overs, Espro Presses, cold brew coffee in addition to our espresso-based offerings. We’re continually changing our latte flavors to ensure they marry well with our Big Trouble espresso and create a unique experience for each customer. We feature flavors like: sweet potato walnut, cardamom caramel, vanilla curry, cherry sage, and so much more!
Our dedication to flavor experience has expanded into the cocktail world and our general manager created a coffee liqueur that has grown with Cure into its own, wildly delicious and exciting product–one that we are excited to announce to our followers will be released in October of this year and is called Cureo Coffee Liqueur.
The empowerment from our owners to the dreams and talents of our staff has shown and thrived from our GM creating a coffee liqueur, to a former barista who re-designed our logo, to our head chef who is ruling our pastry world!
Because of the outpouring from our town into our shop, Cure has been growing so rapidly since 2015 and just last summer we expanded our flagship to twice its original size, which has become essential to our busy days. Our rapid growth and dedicated staff have done so much to contribute to the success of Cure, so much so that we were recently awarded “Small Business of the Year 2017” by the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce. It’s a humbling and inspiring accolade and we continue to do our best to uphold that award!
We have also decided to open a second shop in our owners’ hometown of Smithfield, to bring the Cure personality and product to a new, underserved market, and we couldn’t be more excited about this new build out!
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
Cure Smithfield will be a much smaller version of Cure Norfolk. We found a space that is as historic as the town to house the shop and hope to encourage the charm of the space as we begin our time there. We will be in the historic Smithfield Firehouse from 1939 and look forward to being a unique addition. Smithfield has been an underserved market for quite a long time, having no real coffee shop in the town.
We’ll be the first of our kind in the area and will create a new and enticing coffee culture in this small yet rapidly growing town. We have created a unique design with the challenge of a tight space (660 square feet in total) that will provide functionality as well as pleasing design and flow. Our bar will feature a built-in pastry case with a pour-over/Chemex station on top. We are currently restoring a La Marzocco Linea two-group espresso machine that will be our pride and joy when the shop opens and will offer a rotating menu of unique flavored lattes and plan to introduce the town to treats like: affogatos, coffee popsicles, superfood lattes, and so much more. We’ll have a small but functional kitchen that will have a fun menu to house breakfast, lunch, brunch, and an evening tapas selection. We plan to have a craft beer and wine selection to cater a relaxing and communal evening crowd with a 22 seat capacity.
Our goal in Smithfield is to be as approachable as we are in Norfolk while teaching our customers more and more about the coffee world. We want to help steer patrons’ palates to understand the complexities of coffee while keeping a friendly and humble atmosphere to build relationships and knowledge. We’ll plan to host regular cuppings and “sip-and-learn” events to have the customers explore with us!
What’s your approach to coffee?
Be approachable! Oftentimes there is a “pretension” that has become synonymous with craft coffee. We want to break down the barriers and teach our customers while also building lasting relationships. We “preach the Counter Culture gospel,” as I say to people, which is essentially just a confidence in our product. We know it is wonderful and we want you to know that too, so we will teach and share and show you step-by-step how to make it great! Knowledge and great product should come with a warm smile and comfortable, welcoming atmosphere.
We call ourselves the “golden retrievers” of the coffee industry. We love people, we love our product, and we love to share it with everyone. Our mission is to never be stagnant or plateau in our journey. We always want to be challenged by each roast that comes in, each season, each new menu item we put out and we constantly hone our skills to remain consistent with each cup.
Like I said before, we explore flavors and creativity. Coffee is a fun world full of exploration and we invite people to be a part of it with us.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
We’re currently restoring a 2007 La Marzocco Linea that we picked up for $1k out of Staunton, VA. Our espresso grinder is a Mahlkönig K30. Our barstools are American made from Pollard Brothers in Chicago.
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
Our hopeful opening is at the end of July.
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
Our owner, Mike Aston, has done the design himself and is currently doing the heavy-lifting on construction. He has done a great deal to maximize our capacity and storage in such a small space.
Thank YOU! We are grateful for the opportunity to be in the selection process for this great feature!