By Michelle Mercurio
The places where we drink coffee in Richmond are vast and varied. They are the spaces we gather for meetings and celebrations or go to be alone, while simultaneously being out in the world. Luckily, so many of our favorite RVA coffee places are owned by women entrepreneurs who bring a global perspective, local focus, and unique talent to their spaces.
Pastry Chef & Owner, Sugar & Twine
2928 W Cary Street | Richmond
Pastry chef and entrepreneur Beth Oristian loves operating Sugar & Twine because, “it’s a space for people from all walks of life to come together to write, draw, read, and talk to each other.” Founded in 2015 because Oristian saw huge potential in the Richmond market, the café is an eclectic and bright space in Carytown that celebrates nature and welcomes everyone.
Oristian values creativity and says that most of her imaginative exercises happen in the shop kitchen. All of her coffee syrups and bakery items are made in-house, and she challenges herself to stay inspired through the use of seasonal and new ingredients. She encourages the creativity of her staff as well, saying that her favorite moments are when customers give compliments about her amazing employees.
Her entrepreneurial spirit also fuels her. “A huge part of being a strong entrepreneur is seeking to be the best version of yourself, even on the difficult days.” Oristian also hinted that she’s “not ruled out” future locations to help nourish her creative vision.
Owner, Perk! Coffee & Lunchbox
2620 Buford Road | Bon Air
"It's like the best of Richmond tucked in one cozy, friendly little coffee and sandwich shop." That’s what one customer recently told Christophile Konstas, the creative entrepreneur behind Perk! Coffee & Lunchbox in Bon Air. She opened this communal neighborhood café on Valentine’s Day in 2015 to connect with the community and put her talents – and the culture of food and drink ingrained in her – to work.
“I grew up in an immigrant household with parents in the food and hospitality business. I swore I’d never do this kind of work.” Konstas, who obtained her BFA and MFA and worked as a freelance video editor and producer of food-related documentaries, says that she couldn’t “escape this work” if she tried, but she doesn’t want to quit and is planning to open a second location because she is constantly challenged and amazed by her business. Undoubtedly, she’ll carry some of her favorite beverages into future spaces, like cortados using Roastology’s espresso and her favorite iced RVA soy chai using Richmond Blend tea from Rostov’s.
Konstas says she is continuously energized by the community. “I am inspired by all the creative and talented boss babes I meet and work with through Perk! and the Over the River Makers Mart, which I also produce.”
Owner, Urban Hang Suite [coming soon]
304 E Broad Street | Richmond
Dope and different social entrepreneur Kelli Lemon has a long history of changing how people “LIVE Richmond.” Although Lemon’s urban hang suite concept hasn’t yet opened, it’s one of the most anticipated places coming to Richmond this spring. Located in the downtown Arts District adjacent to Jackson Ward, Lemon’s targeting a Summer 2018(fingers crossed) open date for her all-local, all-fresh, all-RVA coffee café.
Lemon’s concept is to connect all of our communities through food and beverages made exclusively in Virginia, which are largely created by and sourced from the Richmond community. She is hard at work behind the scenes, creating a place where you’ll be ableto grab a quick coffee and pastry in the morning, meet and collaborate during the day, and catch the game or local entertainment in the evening.
She’ll also be bringing her high-energy vibe to the space, as only she can. Lemon envisions that the suite will feature design elements that mix the city and history together, much like the cultural movements happening here right now. The space will be a home for her mission: to passionately connect people through food, sports, arts, and education. “I’ll be there. And there’ll probably be a hug.”
Pastry Chef & Owner, Whisk
While Whisk offers an extensive menu of Blanchard’s coffee and hand-crafted espresso drinks, this chic and inviting shop in Shockoe Bottom is first and foremost, a bakery. At the helm, you’ll find owner Morgan Botwinick directing the space, making pastries and bread on the premises, and likely drinking Lamplighter’s cold brew, even when it’s snowing outside.
Botwinick and her team are committed to making everything from scratch and by hand because they want to provide customers with the best baked goods they’ve ever had. “Even if it’s something simple like a chocolate chip cookie, we want it to be the best.”
Soon, you’ll also see Botwinick on Strawberry Street in the Fan. Her new shop, Scoop , will serve house-made ice cream with signature and seasonally inspired flavors and all the delectable delivery devices, such as waffle cones and sandwich cookies, starting this spring. “A few Whisk favorites will take on new life as menu items at Scoop,” she promises. The menu will also include gluten-free and dairy-free options for all to enjoy.
Noelle Archibald + Jennifer Rawlings
Co-Owners, Lamplighter Coffee Roasters
116 S Addison Street | Richmond
1719 Summit Avenue | Richmond
26 N Morris Street | Richmond
Welcome to Richmond’s living room where world-class coffee meets accessible Southern charm. That is how customers of Lamplighter Coffee Roasters have described the three locations – two in the Fan and one in Scott’s Addition – that were built from the entrepreneurial spirit of three individuals who are city residents, parents, artists, creatives, and passionate folks who care about our local and global communities.
Noelle Archibald, her husband, Zach, and their third co-owner, Jennifer Rawlings, are committed to espresso, and they rigorously train and test their baristas to ensure they serve high-quality coffee drinks consistently. But while the coffee is serious, the familial atmosphere and eclectic music is not. “You’ll hear anything from delightfully bad 90s pop-rock to free jazz to atmospheric metal. We let staff pick the music and enjoy the variety,” says Archibald.
Most importantly, Archibald values passion, and that shows in her work. “As I have gotten older, I realized that running a business gives us a lot of ability to enhance the lives of others and focus our work time toward things we truly value in the world.”