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Just brew it at the 2018 Coffee Expo

Coffe Expo trophy. Source: Asheville Coffee Expo

Coffe Expo trophy. Source: Asheville Coffee Expo

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The free 2018 Asheville Coffee Expo will return for its third year this Saturday (on International Coffee Day, no less) from 10 a.m.–2 p.m. at Ralph St. and Bartlett St. in the River Arts District. You’ll find food vendors, contests, tastings, art + of course, lots of coffee.☕

The Coffee Expo was created in 2016 by our food-loving friend Stu Helm and Angie Rainey of Coffee Crate Co. (a subscription coffee delivery service) to raise awareness of WNC’s budding coffee scene. The day showcases –

  • 13 local and regional coffee roasters.
  • Local cafes + food.
  • Sustainability partners (Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society, Compost Now + Farm to Home Milk).
  • Cupping workshops.
  • Area baristas.
  • Chai + tea producers.
  • Bakeries + doughnut shops.

You know, all the things that make Asheville’s coffee + cafe scene great.

Are you a barista that wants to show off your latte-making skills? The fest also includes a barista competition with categories for best latte art, best cappuccino + a barista freestyle round, as well as a “best house cup” category that will be people’s choice. Sign up here.

If all of that coffee has you feeling jittery, you can head to the Tea Pavilion, a chillout space that will be set up across from Penny Cup Coffee featuring wares from Asheville Goods, Asheville Tea Company, 3 Mountains Tea + more. And you can wash that cuppa down with some food from Vortex Donuts, the Rhu, City Bakery + DoughP Donuts. Because, coffee+sugar=love. 🍩

But before you head to the Coffee Expo, get the scoop on Asheville + WNC’s roasteries, plus tasting notes + tips so you can sip like a pro, here. ⬇

Know what’s in your cup

A brief history of coffee ☕

  • Ethiopian shepherds discovered coffee in 800 A.D.
  • The Catholic Church tried to ban coffee in the 1500s because they believed it inspired satanic behavior. When Pope Clement VIII tasted it, however, he reportedly liked it too much to ban it.
  • Coffee was brought to New York by the British (at that time, it was New Amsterdam) in 1600s. Tea was still more popular than coffee until 1773 when the Boston Tea Party forever changed America’s drink of choice to coffee.


Coffee beans are the seeds of berries from the coffee plant. There are two main kinds of coffee beans: arabica (75%+ of coffee beans produced in the world), and robusta. Arabica is considered the superior bean, but robusta, which is cheaper, pest-resistant + has almost double the caffeine, is used in many lower-end grocery store coffees (think that big tub that sits in your company office break room). While some companies are strictly one or the other, others are blending the two – for a smoother taste with higher caffeine.

Whichever bean you’re growing, the roasting process is similar: When the coffee berries are ripe, they’re harvested, dried + roasted. During the roasting process, the beans crack open and release that sweet coffee smell. Coffee roasted above 395 degrees is considered dark roast.

  • The roast temperature (usually 180-480 °F) determines the flavor profile of the coffee. The lower the temperature, the lighter the roast.
  • Light roasts are more acidic than darker roasts. And darker roasts tend to have a little less caffeine because of the roasting process.
  • It’s possible to overdose on coffee… but it would take 30+ cups in a short period. Phew.

Need some tasting tips to take to the fest? We got you.

While you’re sipping your next cup of joe, think about:

  • Aroma: Smell is a huge part of taste, so what does it smell like? If you can, smell the beans before + after grinding.

  • Acidity: Also called “brightness.” Notice if the flavor is citrusy or fruity at all. Protip: The tanginess of yogurt is also due to acidity, so it could be a helpful reference for what to look for when tasting. Dark roasts are less acidic.
  • Body: As with wine + beer tasting, notice if the coffee is full-bodied and has a heavier mouthfeel. Is the coffee richer + heavier or lighter + smoother? Is it watery?
  • Flavor: What does tasting the coffee bring to mind? Does it taste chocolatey? Like a specific fruit? Smoky? Spiced? Does the flavor change as the coffee’s temperature changes? Does it remind you of anything? Get creative + let your imagination run with it.

  • Finish: Do flavors + aroma linger or fade quickly after sipping? Is there an aftertaste? Does harsh flavor stick around, or does your palate feel more or less neutral?

Meet our local roasteries

Asheville Coffee Roasters | 85 Weaverville Rd., Woodfin | (828) 253-5282 | Coffee for sale online + in their cafe

Bean Werks Coffee & Tea | 753 Haywood Rd. | (828) 254-7766 | Retail offerings, including small batch roasted coffee and tea, online + in their store

Biltmore Coffee Roaster | 518 Hendersonville Rd. | (828) 277-9227 | Drive-through coffee shop + micro roaster in South Asheville (with an online store)

Dripolator Coffeehouse | 221 W. State St, Black Mountain | (828) 669-0999 | Grab bags in the store + try coffee from last year’s reigning champion in the “House Cup” category

Dynamite Roasting | 3198 US-70, Black Mountain | (828) 357-8555 | Buy online or in their store + cafe, or pick up a bag around town at spots like the Hickory Nut Gap farm store, Highland Brewing + more

Independent Bean | 346 7th Ave E, Hendersonville | (828) 674-7494 | Craft coffee roaster focused on the “farm-to-mug” experience. Try it at the cafe (or next door at Underground Baking Co.) or order online.

Mountain City Coffee Roasters | 191 Charlotte St. #101 | (828) 667-0869 | Another micro roaster, Mountain City moved from Candler to join High Noon Roasters in North Asheville. They create roast-to-order beans in small batches.

Notorious Coffee | Madison County | (828) 575-4150 | Buy online or visit them at a local tailgate market. Plus, sample them at locations around town, including Ambrozia + Double D’s.

PennyCup Coffee | 362 Depot St. | Buy online or at their roastery (on Depot St.) or cafes in Asheville. Three more PennyCup locations are currently in the works for East Asheville, downtown + North Asheville.

Pisgah Coffee Roasters | 6283 Asheville Hwy, Pisgah Forest | (828) 309-0707 | Cranking out small-batch coffees named after locations in the Blue Ridge from its spot in the National Forest (near Brevard). Order online or buy in the store.

Qualla Java | 938 Tsalagi Rd, Cherokee | (828) 497-2882 | Buy their in-house roasted coffee at the retail location by the pound.

ShareWell Coffee Co. | 416 N Main St Suite B, Hendersonville | (828) 606-7141 | Serving up their brews around Hendersonville + Asheville (including Plant, Sanctuary Brewing + other spots), with retail in-store + online

South Slope Coffee | Order on the website or try it at Izzy’s Coffee downtown

Summit Coffee | 4 Foundy St. Ste. 20 | (704) 895-9090 | Summit’s OG location + roastery is in Davidson, but you can try cups at the RAD outpost and order their beans online.

My love affair with coffee goes waaay back. And growing up in Asheville, there was always a lot of it around. Between mornings at the Waffle House and weekends downtown at Beanstreets, I was always highly caffeinated.

But it wasn’t until I was older that I really started to appreciate the nuances of a great cup of coffee, and now I love all of the choices – like pourovers, cold brews, lattes + more – that I can get at cafes around town. My go-to, though, is often just a single cup of hot, black coffee. Why complicate it?

What do you look for in a great cup of coffee, and where’s your go-to cup in town? Let us know by replying to this email or telling us over on Facebook or Instagram.

See you at the Coffee Expo, y’all.

– Ali & Stephanie (AVLtoday intern)

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