Flashback to one year ago. The setting: nighttime in a small mountain town, the sleepy streets blanketed in snow. A peek into the only illuminated window around would reveal two friends hard at work baking bread and dreaming about coffee. In many ways this simple scene encapsulates all you need to know about the origin of Hatchet Coffee.The town is Boone, North Carolina, a quaint college town in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, brimming with love for the outdoors. Recreation in the high country covers a vast array of outdoor activities including trail running, hiking, mountain biking and downhill, skiing, snowboarding and climbing. The two friends are Jeremy Bollman and Jeremy Parnell, who have already realized the power of quality craftsmanship and great product through their time spent baking artisan bread. Their dream is to create a company that gives the outdoor community a space and reason to gather. That reason is coffee.
In the time passed since this scene, Hatchet Coffee has been transformed from dream to reality and is now a fully operational coffee roasting company. Around Boone you can find Hatchet Coffee at several local shops: Stick Boy Bread Company and Stick Boy Kitchen, Basil’s Fresh Pasta and Deli, Appalachia Cookie Co., and on Appalachian State University’s campus at Beans 2 Brew. In the coming weeks, climbers of the southeast will also be given the opportunity to taste the startup’s brew at all three of the Triple Crown Bouldering series events.
With microbreweries growing faster than kudzu, wine being available on tap, and craft coffee bars abounding, it is not a stretch to say we are in the age of refined beverages. Coffee is perhaps the newest member of this trio and it seems that we are in the midst of a Coffee Renaissance. Bollman and Parnell confirmed the notion that at least for some, coffee has taken on a new meaning.
Both were “converted” into thinking of coffee differently by personal experiences. Parnell started experimenting with manual brewing methods (i.e., pour over, aeropress, clever dripper, etc.,) a few years ago and described his astonishment at discovering depth and dimension of flavor he had never associated with coffee. Bollman described a similar epiphany sparked by the best cup of coffee of his life while attending a bread-baking course in San Francisco. Both attest that beginning to drink black coffee from specialty coffee roasters like Verve Coffee Roasters of Santa Cruz, California, and Bald Guy Brew of Valle Crucis, North Carolina, opened their eyes to flavors never before imagined.
While experiencing coffee in a novel way on a personal level was gratifying, the two weren't ready to stop there. A climber himself, Parnell has been deeply immersed in the local outdoor scene for several years and expressed frustration that Boone didn't offer a hub for the outdoor community. Bouldering is huge in Boone, dating back to the ’80s, yet the only gym in town until the recent opening of Center 45 was the small gym on the ASU campus.
A few local gear shops around town provide climbers and other athletes with equipment and organize community events, but Parnell and Bollman still felt a void. They dreamed of an outdoor-styled urban cafe that would be inviting to local athletes, students and townspeople, with broader hours of operation. These personal transformative moments, coupled with the feeling that Boone’s outdoor community lacked a space to converge led to what is today Hatchet Coffee.
Although the duo is roasting at full steam, thanks in part to a new roaster recently acquired from Chattanooga’s own Velo Coffee, the dreamed-of space is still in the works and will hopefully be open next spring (that is if they stop doing kick flips and get to work). The brainstorming ideas include a wood stove, plenty of portable brewing systems that will cater to brewing outside, fresh-baked pastries, and garage doors to open during those beautiful clear Boone days. In many ways, the envisioned space embodies all the elements that make Boone such a magical place—the warm, the rustic and the outdoors.
Hatchet has made an appearance at several outdoor events around the high country, including the Cyclocross Training Series sponsored by Boone Bike and the New River Canoe Race . Climbers will find Hatchet providing single-origin pour overs, nitro cold brew, and other hot beverages at the three Triple Crown events this fall, starting in Boone on Oct.3 and followed by Chattanooga on Oct.17 and Steele, Alabama, on Nov.21.
When asked what they are most excited about in being part of Triple Crown this year, their answers were the same: meeting people. While the outdoor community, especially the climbing community, has a strong presence in the Southeast, the two feel that it is underserved and want to do their part in helping it thrive. Serving them great coffee is an added bonus. When you see their tent at Triple Crown, be sure to go by and say hello. You'll be glad you did.