This September will mark the one-year anniversary of Hatchet Coffee’s slow bar, a countertop-shop and lounge that shares a space with Boone, North Carolina’s local bouldering gym, Center 45 Climbing. Fittingly, the milestone will be celebrated with the second annual Legend of El Volcancito Dyno Competition, an event that encapsulates Hatchet’s core values; community, climbing and coffee.
Alongside strong competitors throwing themselves at big moves on plastic, the event will be host to Paulina Schippers of Dos Niñas Coffee Importers, there to represent her father’s coffee farm, Finca San Luis El Volcancito, whose site rests on a (dormant) volcano in Guatemala’s Santa Rosa region. Cultivating relationships, like the one they share with Dos Niñas, is a step in the direction of Hatchet’s ultimate goal; rather than shell out high premiums for certifications and labels, when it comes to sourcing coffees Hatchet’s long term vision looks straight to the source, working in the most direct-trade fashion with the farmers who grow their precious commodity, thereby ensuring that the dollars they pay for the beans end up nourishing the local economies where they were grown.
While their brick and mortar shop is soon to be celebrating its first birthday, Hatchet began roasting and distributing in early 2015. The last two-and-a-half years have seen the coffee roasting enterprise come into its own, expanding its roasting operation from the early days of countertop popcorn-popper experimentation, to purchasing a roaster from Chattanooga’s Velo Coffee Roasters, adding the slow bar and lounge space to the original roasting site beside Center 45, to providing wholesale coffee to 30-odd businesses throughout the High Country. Former bakers at Stick Boy Bread Company, the like-minded (and like-named) co-founders Jeremy Bollman and Jeremy Parnell realized their shared passion for quality coffee during late-night bread shifts. That, combined with a desire to contribute to Boone’s committed outdoor community, led the pair to envision Hatchet Coffee Company- a business pursuit flavored with strong outdoor ethos, that could bring fuel to outdoor locals through coffee.
With quickly expanding wholesale operations, and a full docket of events, 2017 has seen Hatchet do just that. This spring, Hatchet contributed to the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek and Blood, Sweat and Gears bike races, and the Grayson Highlands Bouldering and Stewardship Weekend. Over the coming months, the young company will be among the sponsors for the High Country Beer Festival and High Country Half Marathon (both scheduled for August 26, 2017). With plans to brew onsite again this year, their presence over the past two years also has Hatchet quickly becoming a fixture at the Southeast’s premier outdoor climbing competition series: the Triple Crown Bouldering Series, three competitive bouldering events held at Boone’s Hound Ears (NC), Chattanooga’s Stone Fort (TN), and Steele’s Horsepens 40 (AL). Longtime climber and past Triple Crown competitor, co-founder Jeremy Parnell says joining the series was an obvious fit for the brand, “I knew in the early stages of starting Hatchet that we wanted to invest heavily in this series. Climbing and coffee go hand in hand and there is no better event to bring those two together. Being able to serve a community that we love by providing delicious hot coffee embodies why we started Hatchet.”
In addition to finding Hatchet at outdoor events, locals and visitors can participate in events at Hatchet’s shop; in collaboration with Foggy Pine Books, the space is host to a monthly book club gathering, “Brew the Blue” outings feature hiking, photography and how-tos on brewing coffee outdoors, and recently initiated in-house tastings provide small groups the opportunity to attend “cuppings” of new coffees.
To keep pace with their rapidly expanding operation, Hatchet’s staff has grown beyond the two founders. The pair have trained a handful of baristas, and with the heavy demands of roasting, have begun to apprentice local Alan Garvick on their methods. Along with roasting, Garvick’s photography serves the company well and as he says “joining Hatchet has not only been a huge opportunity for me to grow within the coffee industry and learn about coffee sourcing, roasting, and brewing, but also an opportunity to tap into my creative side and hone my photography. As more of an outdoor recreation and landscape photographer I’m lucky in that our branding really reflects who we are and the outdoors we enjoy.”
Along with ever-rotating single-origin varietals, summertime at Hatchet means plenty of cold brew. Recently upping their production, Hatchet currently offers it bottled at select establishments, with future plans to can and distribute more widely. The fall season will also see a return of the locally- hailed Hatchet Coffee Porter, a collaboration with Booneshine Brewing.
And while product offerings may change seasonally, Hatchet’s plans for the future are more lasting. “The biggest thing I’ve gained through being a part Hatchet is truly setting roots in the community and growing a network of like-minded individuals who love where we live, and are passionate about the things we do,” says Garvick.
Echoing these sentiments, co-founder Jeremy Bollman outlined Hatchet’s plans for growth in “continuing to develop our space- transitioning from open lounge space with a slow bar/roasting operation to a full blown cafe with indoor and outdoor seating, pastry case, smoothies and larger espresso bar.”