Subject: Alchemy Coffee
Location: Richmond, VA
Rating: 6+ [see key]
The density difference in quality coffeehouses between west coast cities and east coast cities still surprises me. While the gaps grow smaller, places like Portland and Seattle still boast the greater amount of great coffee establishments per square mile, with the only real exception being New York City (though you could argue that due to the irregular density and infrastructure of NYC, it really should be put it in a class of its own). Thus it's no wonder that several years ago, when Portlander Erik Spivack transplanted to Richmond, he found a woeful lack of great coffee in this Virginia city. Fortunately, his response was not to complain on social media or give snarky remarks to friends and relatives, but instead to start up Alchemy Coffee.
Alchemy began as a mobile coffee cart slinging out of a small trailer, but a year or so ago, the first shop debuted on Broad St right next to Virginia Commonwealth University. Passing through Richmond once in awhile, I finally found a day to stop in and grab a cup of coffee. After parking on a narrow side street, I walked over to find a shop with huge open windows and plenty of exterior seating. Inside, the place is blissfully open and full of pleasant bustle from students and locals.
As for coffee, they rotate through a lot of great roasters like Ruby Roasters and Gimme and my visit held no exception, with Boston's Barismo firmly on-hand. I ordered an espresso of an Ethiopian and a pourover of an El Salvador. The espresso, pulled short with brown crema, twinkled with lime, vanilla, cola, corn chip, cream and sparkling water, making for a bright and candied shot. The pourover also made for palatal fireworks, with notes of cherry, chocolate, pomegranate, malt, spinach and a bit of whiskey in a medium body.
To soon my time came to a close that sunny afternoon. As I bid farewell it gave me great comfort to know that Richmond and VCU has such a coffee diamond for all to enjoy. Whether you hale from Richmond or you're newly relocated, definitely check out the great coffee at Alchemy.