When people ask me suggestions of the places to go when planning trips to Richmond, there’s a list of places that I always recommend: a visit to our show room, dinner at the Roosevelt, and taking a moment for coffee at Lamplighter Roasting Co. Opening in a converted auto-garage three years ago by husband and wife duo, Zach and Noelle Archibald, along with the coffee shop’s roaster Jennifer Rawlings, Lamplighter has quickly become a local favorite for coffee, food, and meeting up. We caught up with Noelle to learn more about the coffee shop’s success, philosophy of running a business, and Lamplighter’s recent collaboration with Hardywood Park Brewery – which served as the location of our recent photo shoot for January Shirt Run Shirting.
Lamplighter Roasting Co. opened during a time when there were many economic barriers, did you experience any difficulty in doing so?
We had very little capital when we opened and only gave ourselves two weeks of burn time. If no one had walked through the door, we would have closed in two weeks. When we opened, our first customers were our family, friends, and maybe a few people that walked in, but word of mouth spread really quickly for us. Usually when you open a restaurant, you need to have at least 9 months of burn time built in because people aren’t going to know about you but we never had to spend money on advertising.
What are some of the factors that have lead to Lamplighter’s success?
Coffee shops are one of the shared rituals we have in our culture and it’s an important institution. When you travel to bigger cities, there are a lot of coffee shops that may have a reputation for being a bit uninviting. We really wanted Lamplighter to feel like Richmond, where anyone can come in and feel comfortable.
Lamplighter is located near the end of an unassuming street and this location wasn’t known as a destination before you moved in.
I think there’s a movement going on across the country with people wanting to create businesses that fill unmet needs, rather than solely for the purpose of increasing wealth and capital. There’s nothing wrong with opening up on a busy street but we wanted this to be the kind of place that you seek out and is tucked away from a person’s everyday travels. To come here and feel like you are somewhere different… that is the benefit of striking on new territory.
Lamplighter and Hardywood Park Craft Brewery recently collaborated on the release of the Sidamo Coffee Stout – how did this happen and how was the experience?
It was a really great experience for us and exactly what we love doing -experimenting and expanding our horizons with what we can do with coffee. Once we picked the coffee we wanted to use, a lot of discussion and taste testing about find the best way to infuse the coffee flavor into the beer followed. I know the coffee’s finest attributes, what the flavors are supposed to taste like, what flavors were missing and what high notes were still there. This was a great collaboration because they are this way about beer.
What made the Ethiopian Sidamo stand out as the best coffee to use for the collaboration?
Picking the Ethiopian Sidamo was very interesting for me because it’s my favorite coffee. For about a year and a half, we did Ethiopian Sidamo as a single origin espresso, and we initially built our name on our espresso. The Sidamo has a very fruity and clean flavor. I liked that they didn’t just call it a Coffee Beer and really wanted to highlight the flavors. People who are really into coffee will know what a Sidamo should taste like, notice those notes and really pick them out. Our Sidamo Stout is a crisp beer and doesn’t have a super heavy finish.
In addition to your coffee, Lamplighter is well known for its involvement in the community. Is this something you all do consciously?
We don’t have a monetary budget for it but we always send coffee and do things for community events. We host a lot of fundraisers, sponsor neighborhood cleanups, are active in the Richmond bicycling community, and donate a lot of product. We pretty much just always say yes. Zach, Jen, and I have all been involved in a lot of creative projects and things in the past that have all lead us here. Lamplighter is really a tangible way for us to make our city the city that we want to live in.
Lamplighter is located at 116 South Addison Street, Richmond, VA. Lamplighter has plans to open a second location later this winter which will be used as an espresso bar, tasting room, and roasting center. If you find yourself in Richmond, stop by for a coffee.