When I last lived in the States (2 years ago) I didn’t even think about looking for specialty coffee in a city with less than a million people. At the time Louisville’s 2 shop specialty scene was struggling to woo the frappaccino-drinking proletariat and I was skeptical that a smaller market could support a third wave coffee shop. But oddly enough it was while I lived in Istanbul that I learned from my roommate Seth about a hippy utopia in the Appalachian Mountains known as Asheville and a coffee shop there called The Dripolator. Driving with Julie to Raleigh to visit the (future) in-laws proved to be a perfect opportunity to stop by and see it for myself.
Asheville reminded me a lot Flagstaff, AZ- both are in the mountains, have a small but historic downtown, have a state university that supplies a steady stream of young folk to the community, and in both places it’s unfortunately still cool to have dreadlocks. Asheville also is home to Moog Music INC, which makes the finest analog synths on the market. With only 80,000 residents, Asheville may just have the highest coolness per capita on the eastern seaboard. The Dripolator has a lot to do with that.
The Dripolator serves up an array of coffees from Counter Culture with a familiar La Marzocco/Mazzer set up on and Bonmac Pro Cone drippers for pour-overs. On my first visit I had a pour over of the Idido Natural- a coffee I was very familiar with- and was pleased to find the incredible blueberry aromatics and strawberry sweetness I remembered. However, the Idido was at the very end of its season (it was the last week it was being roasted) and it lacked the clarity of the batch I was brewing back in September. However it was an exceptional coffee that was well made. The cappuccino was a little hotter than I prefer, but was still quite excellent. On the way back to Kentucky when we were a little short on time I just ordered the Baroida on drip- which kept me caffeinated and content driving through the rest of the Smokies.
Next time we pass through I want to go to the Moog factory next door!