It seems an unlikely place to open a coffee shop, inside a concert venue. But the talented barista and crafty hand-lettering goddess turned lady boss Lindsey Pitman says it was serendipity that brought her vision to fruition. The Daily Press opened inside the Evening Muse in June, becoming the third coffee spot to grace the NoDa neighborhood. Since her very first job in coffee, Pitman has been enamored with the process of coffee from bean to cup. She obsessed over the varietals that were grown and what it took to grow the coffee in each region, how a particular roast was best prepared and how it tied back to the farmers.
Pitman brings with her a loyal following from her previous barista gig at Central Coffee and a fresh take on craft coffee: one that involves geeky scientific experimentation, artistic thoughtfulness and heaping helpings of community.
Creative Loafing: What do you consider craft coffee?
Lindsey Pitman: It's moving away from just speed and efficiency, getting away from big batch brewing. It's trying to put the education and craft back into the drinks as opposed to just slinging coffee. It's more made-to-order coffee, figuring out the flavor profiles people want and what they're trying to get out of their experience. It's also being aware of the process that the farmers go through to get that crop to the roaster. The whole process is amazing and really makes you want to represent each farm well because they put so much care into it.
Many of the coffee shops in town work with a single roaster. The Daily Press has a variety of roasters on its menu, including Torch Coffee Roasters (Raleigh), Mountain Air Roasting (Asheville) and Counter Culture Coffee (Durham). Can you talk about what makes those relationships so special to you?
It's clear that all the roasters have amazing people that work for them. Andrew from Torch Coffee actually came and worked with me on opening day. I love the story about my first experience with Marshall from Mountain Air. I had emailed a couple roasters and they responded by saying they would send me some samples. Marshall's response was, "Well, I want to know more about you before I consider doing business with you," because he cares how his coffee is represented. The more I found out about him, the more I realized that his response was exactly what I was looking for in a roaster. That was his art form. I actually watched him roast my first bag of coffee that I bought. We carried the green beans to my car and to his roaster and then I watched him roast it [insert geeky laugh here].
What is your vision for the shop?
I'd like it to be comfortable and an educational center. I want it to be an experience. Not snobby. It just feels more like hanging out. The way Joe Kuhlmann [Evening Muse owner] said it was a "cultural hub." We have a produce market and we're probably going to have yoga in there and music. We'll have the latte art competitions and coffee education classes. I just want to utilize the space and get closer to our community.