The fika files

IT’S ALL GOOD: AllGood Coffee owner Eric Anderson pours his heart into his business. photo by Elizabeth McGuire
IT’S ALL GOOD: AllGood Coffee owner Eric Anderson pours his heart into his business. photo by Elizabeth McGuire

The deep, melodic sound summoned me like a call to prayer or meditation. I looked up and saw wind chimes, moving ever so gently in the breeze — just enough to emit beautiful, mysterious sound and to remind me that having a cup of coffee can be a spiritual experience. Yes, not only do I love coffee, but I am called to it.

I paused for a moment, under those wind chimes, took a deep breath, centered myself and remembered what this fika project is all about [see “The Fika Files,” Oct. 16 Xpress]. It is not about grabbing coffee and running out again, on my way to my next appointment. No, to fika means to take some time to sit down and have coffee — alone or with someone else. It means slowing down. Enjoying the moment. Living in the present. And connecting with others.

Inspired by the wind chimes above me, I opened the door to Allgood Coffee in Weaverville, and I knew that I had entered a special place. There I felt a sense of belonging. All types of people were sitting in the coffeehouse, working, chatting, reading. They were all living their lives, doing their thing, and doing it right there in Allgood — a place that just begs you to slow down a bit. Regulars Sarahjane and Allan Dooley, who frequent the coffeehouse to relax and re-connect, describe it as “a sacred place.”

Small-town goodness

Allgood, owned by Eric and Anna Anderson, is just a short drive north of Asheville. Weavervile is a classic, all-American small town. And the fact that autumn had arrived made my visit all the more picturesque, like a Norman Rockwell painting, capturing the essence of American life on canvas. There were streets lined with houses with white picket fences. Pumpkins on doorsteps. A small main street, buzzing with people and business, but not overcrowded. The local elementary school was just a short walk down the street as well. Everything about Weaverville felt simple, idyllic, and welcoming.

After moving to the Asheville area from northern Georgia a few years ago, the Andersons had the opportunity to follow their dream of opening a cafe in Weaverville, making them an integral part of this community-oriented mountain town. Allgood has been open for eight months now, and the community seems to be loving it. Word has spread, and the new coffeehouse, which is in part of the old firehouse, has become a place where the “community is starting to gather,” says Eric Anderson. It seems that Weaverville has gladly opened its arms to embrace Allgood as one of their own.

A relationship over coffee

As Allgood regulars, the Dooleys have most definitely become part of its coffeehouse family, telling me, “You think you are coming in for a cup of coffee, but you’re not. It’s a relationship.”

I don’t think I could describe fika in a better way. You see, it’s not just about drinking a latte on the go. Fika is about choosing to enter into a relationship with another person, or nurturing one that is already formed, including our relationship with ourselves. And that is very easily done at Allgood.

From chatting with Eric as he took his time and poured his heart into every cup o’ joe he created, to striking up conversation with other customers like the Dooleys, I found myself wanting to sit and stay for a while. I felt nourished, not only by the delicious hazelnut latte in my hands, but also by interactions with others. I found myself simply being present in the moment, absorbing all that was around me, reflecting on my thoughts, and laughing as I met new friends.

Whether it’s business meetings or book clubs, Allgood is gaining a reputation of being a place for creating community in Weaverville. As I sat, sipping coffee and writing in my journal, I noticed a young girl walk in alone. She went straight up to the counter. Anderson greeted her by name and asked if he could do anything for her. She politely stated that she was just saying hello, then she promptly turned and left again. Mrs. Dooley says that the community feeling that this little girl exhibited, the feeling that everyone belongs and is welcome, is because Anderson “is a magical man.” Yes, it is magical how the Andersons create an open and loving environment.

A gathering place

As I sat there soaking in the atmosphere, I found myself thinking about the wind chimes again. For me, bells and chimes symbolize a call to something. They summon us to stop and take notice, whether it is the chiming of the hour on a courthouse clock or the chiming of a bell when someone has died. Bells and chimes inspire reverence. They call us to gather together. I think that the Andersons’ wind chimes, which they brought with them from Georgia, call people to be in relationship with each other.

As a church, synagogue or mosque gathers people together to be in relationship with one another, Allgood does the same. Such places are not the building; they’re the people. So is Allgood. For Eric Anderson, his passion for coffee is what “drives the engine. [But] as far as the fuel, it’s the people.” And when you are waiting for your coffee or talking with a fellow customer, you know that Anderson means what he says. You can feel it.

In this season of giving thanks, I hope that we all find a little time for ourselves. I hope we all hear that calling to fika, alone or with someone else. But, most of all, I hope that we create more places like Allgood; places that turn regular, ordinary moments into sacred moments of relationship and presence. That is the heart of fika.

You can find Allgood Coffee at 10-B S. Main St., Weaverville.

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