Article by Paul Spicer @ Greater Richmond Grid
Propped against an old brick building at 116 S. Addison Street is a well traveled beach cruiser. Soon the bike will hit the road, its rider navigating city streets while toting a bucket of beans. This is Lamplighter Roasting Company, an indie java joint recently opened in a former gas station at the southern edge of the Fan District.
Inside the revamped structure, a small crowd is buzzing as the new coffee shop serves giddy Richmonders by bike delivery and onsite. At the counter, peddling Pacific Northwest style go-juice, is co-owner Zach Archibald. Donating his vehicle ten years ago, the charismatic Archibald sports a tat on his back that reads “One Less Car.” Although he wears a navy blue Captain’s hat on a regular basis, he is one of a feisty three part team that is equally responsible for the new undertaking.
Managing daily operations of Lamplighter is Noelle Archibald, a native Richmonder who has just returned to RVA after a stint in Portland as a member of the Sprockettes, an all female synchronized bike dance troupe, as well as logging in time touring the country as a member Show Me the Pink, a popular dance punk band. Completing the impressive group of owners is Jennifer Rawlings, everybody’s favorite independent roaster, formally of 17.5 Ethos Café in Shockoe Bottom.
Together, this band of micro roasters has combined their love of good eats, good beans, and good company. Quickly becoming a community living room for nearby coffee fans, Lamplighter is attracting an impressive mix of some of Richmond’s best artists and creative change makers. Mixed into the fan base is of course a strong showing of bike enthusiasts, many arriving on “tall bikes” that have been welded together from spare parts.
Sipping small batch, craft roasted coffee in mugs made by Zach Archibald’s mother, its quickly clear that the patrons of Lampligther are as involved as its owners in developing a coffee shop culture like no other in RVA. In the bathroom, which has become known as the “The Loo, Necessary Art Gallery,” local artists have been given a license to paint the walls as they see fit. Tyler Thomas, Marshall Higgins, and Michael Guidre were the first to decorate the potty with an eye-popping mural that is worthy of a visit alone.
Joining in the fun, neighbors of Lamplighter are said to be partnering with the coffee shop owners to launch an “Addison Arts Corner,” where local studios and small galleries combine forces in pursuit of all things fun and creative.
More than just buckets of personality, Lamplighter boasts an artisan approach to coffee roasting. In fact, the core offerings of the new establishment -- food and java -- pack enough punch to change the ways of the most hardened corporate coffee tipplers.
“We only roast in ten pound batches,” says Noelle Archibald of the shop’s dedicated approach to micro roasting. Archibald credits Rawlings’ extensive experience as an independent roaster as the secret to the trio’s success. “Jen is an intuitive roaster,” explains Archibald. “Beans are very temperamental, so Jen is always watching and smelling the beans on the particular day they’re roasted. A matter of thirty seconds can make a difference, so we never go above ten pounds at a time…with small batch roasting we can pay attention to everything that is going on.”
With coffee this good, the Lampligther team knew they must also extend their creativity to the kitchen. Here Zach Archibald excelled, quickly whipping up a menu that boasts breakfast standouts such as country-style doughnuts, homemade granola, and a variety of egg sandwiches. For lunch, Archibald has added the likes of a 17 ½ Panini (turkey, Swiss cheese, caramelized onions, and Caribbean jerk aioli), Vandenbergehimer (honey balsamic glazed tofu), crustless PB&J (served with banana and honey), and more.
Noelle Archibald keeps the front of the house moving, as she serves Chai Tea Latte (house brewed spiced black tea), Thai coffee, Liberian Ginger Ale, Egg Cream Soda, and fresh-brewed coffee. While many simply stroll in for a cup of Joe, Archibald also fields calls for “Coffee of the Week” customers who receive beans delivered by bike to their doorstep. And for businesses, she happily sends the shop’s beach cruiser on deliveries with five gallon, reusable buckets of beans.
While Richmonders have been gobbling up Lamplighter goodies, painting the walls, and ordering coffee-by-bike since December, the gang hosted an official grand opening party on January 7th.
Lamplighter Roasting is open 7 days a week, 7 AM-5 PM.
116 S. Addison Street