As a member of the Coffee Consorts™ over on Twitter, I was beyond honored when Ace asked me to do a guest post on Mugshots. That honor melted into anxiety quickly once I realized I had to narrow down a coffee to highlight. Do I highlight the organic Peruvian roast I got through my now-late father? What about my favorite local coffee roaster, Otus Coffee? And then there’s the fact that Ace already wrote about one of my top favorite coffees, Thieves’ Cant from Found Familiar. I hemmed and hawed and whined and complained to my cats until I procrastinated enough that I ended up on vacation in North Carolina.
It was here that I found the coffee of my dreams in a tiny little town center and knew instantly that that was the coffee I needed to share. The small shop I stumbled upon is called Fred and Larry’s Coffee in the lovely town of Banner Elk, North Carolina. It was just a hop and a skip from our cabin, and when I entered the coffee shop, my heart sang. The smell of freshly roasted coffee, newly ground beans, and whole roasts filled the tiny room. As someone on week two of vacation over three states with a three-year-old, it felt like a dreamy out of body experience. I quickly went through my checklist:
- Life-sustaining bean water – check
- Iced options for queers – check
- A variety of blends, concoctions, and pain au chocolat on display – check
- Whole beans to purchase later – check
- An old mountain man at the register – bonus check
When I approached the counter, the old mountain man—who I later learned was Larry from Fred and Larry’s—asked what I wanted. I did what any indecisive bisexual coffee lover would do and asked him what the local favorite was…the one roast I needed to have. Larry said that the Appalachian roast is the most popular. So, Appalachian roast it was. The barista behind Larry asked how I wanted it. I said with cream and sugar. Larry chimed in with “iced or hot?” I asked for iced, obviously. As soon as I gave my full order, the barista tapped Larry on the shoulder and said, “That’s the million-dollar drink!”
As it turns out, I ordered one of the most incredible, delicious, million-dollar-worthy coffees. I thought it was cute and also that I may have won a million dollars (spoiler alert: I didn’t). But what I did win was a new favorite coffee. The Appalachian roast is TO DIE FOR. It is a medium roast, full-bodied, rich and bold, and so so so smooth. I was immediately hooked.
The next day was our last in the area before heading to our next city. I, of course, went back to Fred and Larry’s and got myself another Million-dollar Drink and also had them grind up a bag of the Appalachian roast for me. I thought maybe it was the vacation, the mental and physical exhaustion of a family trip, or the fact that I was high on fresh mountain air that made me fall so deeply in love with this roast. A thousand questions filled my head. Was I cheating on Otus Coffee and its owner Glen who I see often and get 64oz growlers of cold brew from? What about Found Familiar? Would they notice if I stopped my coffee subscription and solely got my coffee from a southern mountain town? What if I imagined this coffee to be the best thing to ever grace my tastebuds and I brought up a bag of ground-up sludge?
Well, the good news is that when I brewed the Appalachian roast at home, it was the same euphoric coffee I had in North Carolina. I now recommend it to everyone and made sure to find out if I could order bags from down in Florida. They don’t have an ordering service online, but Larry said all we need to do is call the shop and place the order over the phone and they’ll send it right out. So, if you like a rich roast that will blow your damn mind, go order from Fred and Larry. They’re legit and worth the praise.
As far as mugs go…I couldn’t decide. Ace may make me, but I’m sending a photo of three of my faves, so maybe I’ll be annoying enough that they won’t make me choose. One is an otter mug from said vacation, the other two were gifts from my friends. The ‘Fuck off I’m writing’ was a gift when I was writing my book, and the ‘Love Comes in All Colors’ was a gift when my novel debuted. As you can see, it’s impossible to choose. I doubt Larry chooses favorite mugs, so I won’t either.