Blogger, minister and globe-trotting coffee aficionado Elizabeth Reynolds McGuire spends her downtime checking out local coffee shops and promoting the idea of fika, a Swedish custom of relaxing and savoring a cup o’ joe. Her regular series examines Asheville-area coffee culture one cup at a time.
I first visited Biltmore Coffee Traders’ cozy red cottage café this past fall, and the memories have stayed with me. My three-hour visit to Biltmore Coffee Traders left me feeling inspired and uplifted. It was a reminder of the simple things in life: hard work, passion, community, relationships and, of course, enjoying all of that while sipping a good cup of coffee.
Owned and managed by Laura and Rick Telford, Biltmore Coffee Traders is everything you hope such a place would be but don’t expect to actually find. Located just south of Biltmore Village, set back from busy Hendersonville Road, it looks friendly and inviting, and the interior bears out that impression.
The little room is filled with the aroma of coffee; cute, locally handmade things; and delicious-looking baked goods. It’s a humble, simple place with shelves of coffee and related paraphernalia; a counter displaying homemade goodies; a big, yellow coffee bean roaster; and giant burlap sacks of coffee distributed throughout the space. Everything about the place bespeaks a love of coffee — and people.
The Telfords describe themselves as “small-batch, artisan roasters specializing in relationship coffee: sustainable for people and the planet.”
One day when I was there to fika, I had the pleasure of sitting and chatting with Laura. She took time, as I can tell she does regularly with customers, to talk about her love for what she does. But most importantly, she stressed their commitment to providing quality local, organic food and fair-trade coffee because, “We call our customers our friends and treat them like family.”
She also updated me on their future plans and dreams for the café. This year, there’s a new open space with tables and a sofa, and more outdoor seating is planned for the summer: perfect fika spots.
As Laura and I chatted, customers kept coming in. Mostly regulars, they were people from all walks of life: young 20-somethings wanting coffee to go or a milkshake to stay; a retired man buying beans for a wedding; Asheville postal worker Esteban Quintana, taking a break with a cup of coffee and a peanut butter cookie, which he kindly shared with me.
By design, explains Laura, the café is “not pretentious or highbrow, and our customers are as diverse as Asheville, but here, it's possible for everyone to enjoy one of life's luxuries: the best coffee in town.”
Biltmore Coffee Traders fosters community — both local and global. Simple. Real. Personal. The Telfords work hard to keep the focus on local, organic, community-produced goods and fair-trade beans. They’re living their dream, working hard but wanting only to live the life they’ve chosen while providing the Asheville community with a soulful gathering place: a café with heart.
“It’s a granola place,” says Laura. Earthy, organic, diverse, grassroots and natural — Biltmore Coffee Traders is all those things — and whoever you are, you are welcome.
Biltmore Coffee Traders is at 518 Hendersonville Road and online at biltmorecoffeetraders.com.