One of the real joys in reading the Build-Outs of Summer that come our way each year is seeing how new cafes are repurposing old buildings. Sure, a ground-up build is also exciting, but getting to see coffee shops get creative within limitations while preserving sometimes 100-year-old historical structures is always satisfying. You get to see new spaces retain and add to the character of a place.
Our next stop is doing just that. Ironclad Coffee Roasters in Richmond, Virginia is taking over a 130-year-old fire station that has since been decommissioned since the 1950s. In the process of their build-out, they made sure to keep much of the original character of the building in the historic Shockoe Bottom neighborhood and have done so to a dramatic effect. They have breathed new life into those old bones, but made sure the history remained.
As told to Sprudge by Ryan O’Rourke.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
We began roasting coffee, primarily for wholesale, in February of 2016. Our founder, Ryan O’Rourke, had just returned to the USA after living in Ireland for five years. During that time, he was fortunate enough to enjoy coffee from some excellent European roasting companies. This shaped his vision for Ironclad. We strive to offer coffees of outstanding quality with an attitude of approachability and fun.
The new Ironclad cafe is our opportunity to showcase the coffees that motivate us to get out of bed every morning and to present them in our own unique manner. Mostly, we want people to enjoy delicious beverages and tasty treats in a beautiful and welcoming environment.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
The building was constructed in 1884 as the station for the No. 2 Hook and Ladder Company of the Richmond Fire Department. It was decommissioned as a fire house in 1952.
In remodeling the space as a cafe, we wanted to highlight the manifold original features and highlight the history. We also want it to highlight the beauty and uniqueness of Richmond as a city. The building sits in the Shockoe Bottom neighborhood, arguably the most historic section of one of the most historic cities in the USA.
What’s your approach to coffee?
A commitment to quality in a fun and approachable manner. We endeavor to be a place where anyone can enjoy their time with top-quality food and beverage in a comfortable environment. Life is, indeed, too short for both bad coffee AND mean people.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
Three-group Victoria Arduino Black Eagle Gravitech
Nuova Simonelli Mythos One Clima Pro grinders for espresso
Mahlkönig EK-43 for pour overs and batch brew
Ground Control for our batch brew (this thing is incredible)
Yama drip cold brew tower
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
Grand Opening on July 13th
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
You’re welcome! :-)
The Build-Outs Of Summer is an annual series on Sprudge. Live the thrill of the build all summer long in our Build-Outs feature hub.