I hadn't really had that experience in Richmond yet. I've had some elements here and some elements there, but I have never walked into a room, made eye contact with a barista and known beyond any doubt that I was getting ready to experience something memorable.
When I opened the door to The Lab by Alchemy Coffee, I saw the coffee experience I had never seen in Richmond. I saw everything I love about my favorite coffee destinations throughout the USA and abroad. I drank a stunningly well crafted coffee, enjoyed conversation about the brewing science used to make it, soaked in clean, sleek design and smiled - a lot.
Eric Spivack, the man behind The Lab, has been peddling coffee out of his two-wheeled, wood-siding coffee trailer for the past few years. Though, as a colleague, a client and a friend, I watched Eric uncompromisingly devote himself to the craft of great coffee, I still always pictured the Alchemy Coffee experience tied to being outside with a paper cup and the steady hum of a Honda generator. I had no doubt Eric had the barista chops to take on anyone in the industry, but I didn't fully expect his venture into opening a brick and mortar shop to be so absolutely perfect. I am so very glad I was wrong.
What makes The Lab by Alchemy Coffee so good?
Great coffee is a good starting point. I'm proud that Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Co. shares the Alchemy stage with Counter Culture Coffee. The next thing is knowledge - Eric has devoted himself to coffee knowledge and he thoughtfully sources the best coffees Blanchard's Coffee and Counter Culture have in their repertoire. Knowledge is followed by skill - Eric and his team of baristas are good and will only get better. They have the very best equipment on the market - something many shops pass up as soon as they see the price tag. The room, itself, is simply, sleekly and beautifully designed. The vibe of a room is one of the most overlooked intangibles for any business, especially one as intimate as a coffee house. Eric has enlisted the pastry talent of Drew Thomasson to offer an exceptional selection of edibles. Finally, the Alchemy Coffee team pulls it all together and places a well crafted cup of coffee in your hands, you take a sip and you know you'll be back and you'll share your experience with your friends.
I've said this for a number of years now, but I'm finally beginning to see it come true with The Lab by Alchemy Coffee: Richmond's coffee scene is on the verge of becoming something great. If you haven't had a chance to see the future of great coffee in Richmond, take a morning trip to 814 W. Broad Street and treat yourself to something memorable.