Background: Waking Life opened on Nov. 23rd, 2009 with the goal of changing Asheville’s coffee scene for the better. We want to recontextualize coffee in the same manner as local beer, cocktails, and food. We have been successful in our current location and are currently scouting for a second location either downtown or in the River Arts District.
Concept: Coffee pop-ups are a new addition to the coffee scene, as baristas like Yeekai Lim of Cognoscenti Coffee in Los Angeles have created sustainable businesses in various temporary locations. The Waking Life pop-up, however, is to be viewed as the first in a series of exclusive, curated coffees offered one-time only in specific locations. Urban Outfitters, due to the scope of their influence and dedication to local involvement, was the first location contacted. The exclusive coffee will be an organic selection of heirloom varieties from the Mora Mora farm and mill in Shakiso, Guji district, Ethiopia.
This coffee was sourced by Coffeeshrub in Oakland, CA, and will be roasted by Mountain Air Roasting in Asheville. It will be sold as either a twelve ounce hand-brewed coffee for $3.50, or twelve ounces of whole beans for $18.50 with a custom tag (see attached) designed by Jeremy Joachim of Hot Stuff Tattoo in West Asheville. In keeping with the concept, there will be no cream or sugar offered. Our ideal time would be 12pm-4pm on a Saturday, in order to catch the downtown brunch and shopping crowd.
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I’d be lying if i said tourists weren’t a market I’d like to buy my coffee. However, this pop-up is more oriented to people who might be out downtown Saturday that want an interesting coffee experience in an exclusive location.
As far as price, I served a $4.00 per cup Nyeri Gichatha-ini from Kenya at our West Asheville location for a while and no one batted an eye. It was an incredible coffee, brewed by hand, and worth the price. It’s strange that no one thinks twice about paying $5 for 5 oz. of cheap red wine anywhere in town, yet a $3.50 hand-brewed cup of coffee is a huge expense.
Believe it or not, just as much effort and knowledge goes into the production of coffee as wine, yet the farmers are making vastly less. This coffee (the Mora Mora) is a Farm Gate (http://coffeeshrub.com/shrub/content/farm-gate-coffee) coffee that we paid a premium for, and I can say with confidence it’ll be worth it.
$3.50 for balck coffee? Maybe for tourists, but are you kidding? I can get a perfectly brewed french press for under 2.00. Maybe in a large city like D.C. where salaries are big – but AVL where some foks are earning $8.00/hr.