Small bites: Independent Bean Roasters opens in Hendersonville

ALL IN A DAY'S ROAST: Matthew Hickman and Lisa Hoffman offer unique, single-origin coffees at their new business, Independent Bean Roasters. Photo courtesy of Hickman

Last month Independent Bean Roasters opened its retail space in Hendersonville’s historic Seventh Avenue district. But for owners Matthew Hickman and Lisa Hoffman, the neighborhood is familiar territory. Over the last seven years, the husband-and-wife team has run (and will continue to operate) Underground Baking Co. While the couple’s latest venture shares a roof with the more established bakery, the two businesses are separate entities, housed in different units within the 1922 red brick building.

Process is emphasized at Independent Bean Roasters. Because of this, Hickman notes, guests will have the unique opportunity to witness the entire coffee-making procedure. From the bags of green coffee to the roaster to the finished product, the total operation will unfold within 10 feet of the shop’s patrons. “Everything is happening right there,” Hickman says.

Intimacy and proximity are part of the facility’s overall philosophy and design. The retail portion of the shop offers limited seating — eight chairs total between its tables and bar. This, says Hickman, allows the business more one-on-one interaction with its guests. “You can come in and choose different origins of coffee, and we can talk to you about the differences and the unique characteristics,” he explains.

Along with beverages, the new shop highlights the products of the owners’ original venture. A menu of fresh pastries and dessert, all made from scratch, will be available.

Hickman notes that the shop’s location within the historic district played an important role in its overall aesthetic, which Hoffman designed. Formerly a barbershop, the roasting facility has retained its original tin ceiling. In addition, the owners have kept a single barber chair along with a portrait of Donald “Red” Price, who, before his retirement, cut hair in the building for 51 years.

The barbershop business left the space with plenty of electrical outlets — a detail that is a bit ironic considering Independent Bean Roasters does not offer Wi-Fi. However, Hickman points out that this omission was intentional. “We really want people to come in and share a pot of coffee or tea with a friend and really unplug and connect with each other,” he says.

Independent Bean Roasters is at 346 Seventh Ave. E., Hendersonville. Hours are 7:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday. Drinks range from $2-$5.50; pastries are $2.50-$4. For more information, visit

Spruce Pine BBQ & Bluegrass Festival

The Spruce Pine BBQ & Bluegrass Festival website notes that in July, Spruce Pine’s average high temperature is 79 degrees. But come midmonth, it goes on to say, “The BBQ and Bluegrass at the Spruce Pine BBQ & Bluegrass Festival will be red hot!” The two-day festival begins Friday, July 14, at Riverside Park. Pork, chicken, brisket, turkey legs, funnel cake, homemade ice cream, fruit smoothies and roasted peanuts will all be available, with food vendors including Asheville’s Sackett Street BBQ, Fayetteville’s NC Ribs on Wheels, Wake Forest’s Southern Fried Factory and Burnsville’s Juicebox. The festival will also feature local and regional musicians, championship clogging teams, an antique tractor and farm equipment show, craft vendors and activities for kids.

The Spruce Pine BBQ & Bluegrass Festival happens 4-10 p.m. Friday, July 14, and 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, July 15. Wristbands are required and cost $5 per day for adults and children ages 13 and older. Admission is free for children ages 12 and younger. For details, visit

Wines You Never Knew You Loved

On Thursday, July 13, Metro Wines will host Wine You Never Knew You Loved. The event will be led by Andy Hale, director of education at the Asheville School of Wine. “Life is too short to just drink cabernet and chardonnay,” Hale says in a press release. “Take a walk on the wild side of wine and taste lesser-known varietals and wines from more remote regions in the world.”

Metro Wines is at 169 Charlotte St. Wine You Never Knew You Loved runs 6-7 p.m. Thursday, July 13. Tickets are $20 and are available at

Asheville International Wine Competition celebrates regional excellence

Last month, Lenoir-Rhyne University hosted the Asheville International Wine Competition. The event was organized by the Asheville Wine and Food Festival and the French Broad Vignerons, a nonprofit organization dedicated to wine evaluation and the promotion of regional wineries. Wineries from North Carolina and Tennessee participated in the competition, with nine wines earning double gold medals and 27 earning gold metals. The full list of winners is available at


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About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. His writing has appeared in Gulf Coast, the Miracle Monocle, Juked and elsewhere. His debut novel, The Wind Under the Door, is now available.

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