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Food truck fiends, meet the coffee cart

Lena Price November 15, 2012 8

Alchemy Coffee trailer

The 4-by-8-foot Alchemy Coffee trailer was built mostly with recycled materials.

Richmond is in for a taste of West Coast coffee culture.

Alchemy Coffee, a mobile coffee shop modeled after sidewalk cafes in Portland and Seattle, is set to open in Richmond this month. Owner Eric Spivack said he started his business to fill what he sees as a void in the local coffee market.

Eric Spivack

Eric Spivack

“I’m targeting the morning commuters who don’t have time to brew fresh coffee at home but might not be happy about the quality they’re getting at Starbucks,” said Spivack, 34, who quit his job at Altria and committed to Alchemy full time in the spring.

Alchemy will park its small wood-sided trailer on East Cary Street between 9th and 10th streets on weekdays. Spivack said he plans to open at 7 a.m. and brew though the afternoon.

After leaving Altria, Spivack spent about six months working through the permitting process and designing his mobile coffee shop. Local restaurant designer Tom Brickman built the 4-by-8-foot trailer using mostly recycled materials.

A self-described “coffee traditionalist,” Spivack said Alchemy would offer hot and iced espresso drinks along with drip coffee. He said he wants to keep the recipes simple so he doesn’t overshadow the natural flavor of the beans.

“I’m not messing around with all these mint, pumpkin spice type of flavors,” Spivack said. “I really want people to focus on the taste profiles of the coffee, which you lose if you add too much to it.”

Local roaster Blanchard’s will provide the beans for Alchemy’s espresso drinks, and Spivack will get the rest of his supplies from North Carolina-based Counter Culture Coffee.

Including equipment costs, building the trailer and installing plumbing and electricity, Spivack said it took about $35,000 to get Alchemy up and running.

He financed part of the startup costs with personal savings and said he hopes to expand soon.

“Six months from now, I hope I’ll be able to walk into a bank and say, ‘Hey, I have a model here that really works,” Spivack said.

Editor's Picks


  1. ice November 15, 2012 at 8:06 am - Reply

    Way to step out on a limb and go for it!

  2. Phil H. November 15, 2012 at 8:08 am - Reply

    Excellent. I like everything this guy says. I’m on my way to purchase a cup in a few short minutes.

  3. carolanne November 15, 2012 at 9:42 am - Reply

    The next time I drive downtown you can be assured that I’ll stop to buy a cup!

  4. Beth Ann November 15, 2012 at 10:52 am - Reply

    My office is so excited to have Alchemy Coffee right out front of our building. Best of luck to Eric!

  5. Will Dartnall November 15, 2012 at 5:53 pm - Reply

    Way to go Eric! Best of luck!

  6. Nancy November 19, 2012 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    Eric – this is the cutest coffee vehicle I’ve ever seen! Now I need to come down to Richmond and try some traditional brew! Good luck!!!!!!!

  7. LS November 28, 2012 at 12:00 pm - Reply

    How cute is that!

  8. EM December 7, 2012 at 9:29 am - Reply

    Espresso was awesome. Best of luck!

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