Alchemy Coffee Opens Up “The Lab”

Words and Photographs by Rebecca Frankel

You may have passed by Alchemy Coffee, a coffee and pastry cart, on your way to classes near the Singleton Center and Pollak Building.

Alchemy Coffee has perfectly brewed vegan coffee down to an exact science. They have been so prosperous that on August 25th, 2014 they opened up a snazzy new shop on West Broad St. called “The Lab.” It is right next to Richmond Book Shop and inside the new VCUarts Depot.

The weather was dreary and rainy when I stepped foot into Alchemy Coffee’s new shop, and I was in desperate need of a caffeine pick-me-up.

The interior looks like a secret science lab inside an 1800’s wood cabin. There are wood counters with industrial metal chairs and flowers in beaker vases. There are a few cool, old-timey science tools hanging around the shop, including a large Yama Tower.

They sell the same pastries as the Alchemy cart on campus, but are able to have a bigger variety in the store. The display case had fruit tarts, scones, muffins, chocolate cookies and savory quiches. Pastry prices range from .00 to .00.

The Lab features the same coffees as the cart with espresso, drip, pour over, and cold brew coffee. Coffee prices are from .50 to .25, depending on what you order and the size. They also offer tea, chai lattes and hot cocoa.

They had several different coffee grinds to choose from, each offering various different flavors.

I first ordered the Ethiopia Harrar coffee in an espresso latte. It was sweet, and had notes of blueberry and milk chocolate. There was a lovely heart illustrated in cream on the foam, which I happily ruined as I sipped on the hot coffee. On a chilly rainy day, that coffee was just what I needed.

With my espresso latte I had a strawberry ricotta cheese tart, which was good, but nothing special. There were only a few thin slices of strawberries on top of the tart, so it was mostly sweet ricotta cheese.

Next, I decided to try an iced coffee using the Sipacapa coffee grinds.

When I got the coffee, it was black. I asked the gentleman working at the counter if it would ruin the coffee if I added cream, because I never drink my coffee black. He replied that they wouldn’t be offended if I added cream, but he highly suggested against it, since the quality of their coffee is so high.

I decided to take a chance and listen to the man’s advice. I took a cautious sip of my black iced coffee and to my pleasant surprise, it wasn’t intolerably bitter. There was a lot of flavor to the coffee; it tasted like dark chocolate, raspberries, and lavender. Simply put, in that moment my opinion of black coffee was forever altered.

The employees here are true coffee connoisseurs. Without being prompted, the gentleman working that day enthusiastically gave me a lesson on their various brewing methods.

In making the iced coffee, Alchemy uses the Japanese method of brewing a concentration of specially selected coffee directly onto ice. The ice shocks the coffee, bringing out a lot of its natural flavor. Melting ice contributes to the total water volume without weakening the final brew.

Alchemy also offers Cold Brew Iced Coffee, in which the coffee is steeped for fourteen hours. Paul, a barista at The Lab, stated, “[Cold Brew] It’s the best way to get the most flavor profiles out of your coffee. If you brew it correctly, coffee should never be bitter.” He told me trying their iced coffee would be eye-opening, and he was right!

Checking out Alchemy Coffee’s “The Lab” between classes is definitely worth the time and money. Once you have a taste of their coffee, you’ll never want Starbucks again

Preview
A Day in the Life: A Day on Campus

A Day in the Life: A Day on Campus via Danielle "Dani" BrownIt’s the last month before the end of the semester, and that usually means two things: final exams and projects, and more time spent on campus preparing. A good portion of VCU students already live on-campus, which means they eat on-campus, with their meal plan, and don’t have t...

Article: Alchemy Coffee: One Part Science, One Part Magic

Article: Alchemy Coffee: One Part Science, One Part Magic Words and Photos by Azam MalikIf the owner and chief coffee peddler of Alchemy Coffee, Eric Spivack, had any flaws it would be that he cares too much. From the source of his coffee beans to the brands of the milk he uses, for Spivack, everything has to be perfect.It is this approach that led ...

Boo’s Brown Bag: What VCU Might Need

Boo’s Brown Bag: What VCU Might Need Words and Photos by Sam IsaacsI’ve always felt that there needs to be more small “to go” based restaurants in the VCU area. Boo’s Brown Bag, which opened Jan. 14, provides that service. However, if this place is going to hold its own, the food has got to be just as good or better tha...

Preview

Nao and Zen, Now and Then Contributing WriterBayan Atari Perhaps in an attempt to keep up with the Asian-fusion competition that is Panda Express, or maybe for some more elusive reason, Nao and Zen has totally overhauled its menu. Located in the Student Commons, Nao and Zen is a convenient option for students with dining plans. In my freshman year, ...