The Sprudge Maps Spotlight is heading to Decatur, just northeast of Atlanta, to check out Radio Roasters Coffee. Started by Chip Grabow in 2014 while still holding down a day job as a producer for NPR News, Radio began life as a delivery-only roastery. Since then the company has grown and expanded into a new roasting space in 2018 that would allow for a tasting room and more direct customer interaction.
Grabow still works in news, now for CNN, but thanks to the success of the brand, Radio is no longer a one-man show. To learn more about Radio here in 2022 and beyond, we spoke digitally with Chip Grabow.
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As told to Sprudge by Chip Grabow.
Introduce yourself to our readers—tell us about your cafe!
We are Radio Roasters Coffee, a small roasting operation based in Decatur, Georgia. We’ve been around since 2014 or so, and in 2018 moved to a new location which gave us some space for a tasting bar we use to serve visitors. We want people to taste what we’re roasting and we want to broaden our community’s understanding of specialty coffee. (The owner is a former producer for NPR News and still has a day job at CNN, but our name is inspired by his love of radio and sound and recording gear.)
What equipment do you use in your shop?
Our small tasting lab has a Synesso Cyncra we modified slightly, adding a walnut wood kit and powder coating it white… and we still have our original La Marzocco Linea Mini that we started with back in 2015. We batch brew on a FETCO double brewer and typically do manual brews with the Kalita Wave or a Fellow Stagg setup. Mahlkönig grinders round out our bar (we love the new E65 GBW).
And, it’s not coffee brewing related but… we’re really proud of our Vestaboard which we use as a menu board and feature various coffee-related quotes.
Which roaster or roasters do you serve?
Radio Roasters of course!
What is the neighborhood like where you’re located? What’s some other cool stuff nearby?
We are just east of Downtown Decatur (which is on the east side of Atlanta) and one of our favorite spots is the Dekalb Farmers Market around the corner… it’s more like a Costco than an outdoor farmers market, but with amazing produce and foods from around the world. So many people shop there, it’s almost always packed with food lovers and local chefs shopping for ingredients for that week’s menu. And we love our city of Decatur which is packed with our favorite restaurants, from Kimball House to Victory to Chai Pani.
Did you close during a mandated Coronavirus shutdown, and if so, for how long?
Because we’re primarily a production roastery and were designated as essential services, we were able to keep our roasting operation going, but our tasting bar closed for several months.
How has Coronavirus impacted daily work at your cafe?
Fortunately things have changed dramatically since this questionnaire was written, and like many places in the US, we are now maskless and feel more comfortable having the public step inside and linger a bit, as opposed to when we just let one customer in at a time and they had to leave as soon as they got their order.
What’s something cool or unique about your cafe you want folks to know?
We’re primarily a production roastery, so people who visit get to see where the coffee they’re drinking is actually roasted. They can see the whole messy operation and we often give impromptu tours to extra curious customers.
Is there a community organization or charity you’d like to shout-out as part of this feature?
We have partnered with this awesome group, the True Community Foundation for the past year; they work with local businesses and many coffee businesses to help alleviate food insecurity for teens and adolescents. They’ve done amazing work in a short amount of time and they’re just getting started. We look forward to a long partnership with them.
Photos by Radio Roasters Coffee, used with permission