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Moxxee named a 'must-try'

By Megan Workman

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Moxxee Coffee owner T.J. Baldwin has traveled to Bolivia to convince coffee growers to dry the beans differently.

He has met farmers in Rwanda, raved over their roast and brought it back to Charleston to sell in his East End coffee shop.

Baldwin -- who owns the shop along with his two brothers Jon and Jason, and friends Jon and Wendi Farmer -- wanted to open a shop where everyone felt welcome, which is why there is no wood used in the entire building. Instead, handcrafted stainless steel, copper, and concrete are apparent throughout Moxxee.

Those traits -- the traveling and attention to detail -- led Zagat Survey to name Moxxee Coffee as one of the 50 Must-Try Coffee Shops in the United States last week.

Survey authors chose one coffee shop from each state "where you can get a great cup of joe," according to Zagat.

"As far as coffee goes, they offer award-winning Cup of Excellence brews from around the world, each done pour-over style or brewed in the Clover machine," Zagat authors wrote about Charleston's coffee shop. "They also make sure the farmers get paid well for their product and take great pride in what they are doing."

Baldwin said Tuesday that the recognition is exciting, but he's happy to hear coffee drinkers enjoy the shop's brews.

"What's most rewarding is when our regulars go away and you hear them say that they miss Moxxee," Baldwin said, sitting in one of the shop's metal stools facing Lee Street. "People visit from big cities like Toronto and Chicago and say it's the best they've had and then the employees spend their own money here. It's nice."

This isn't the first time Moxxee - the name comes from an American Indian word for "black water," Baldwin said -- has been awarded for its work.

East End Main Street board members voted the coffee shop, on the corner of Lee and Morris streets, as the Business of the Year on the East End last year. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin honored the shop's owners, said Ric Cavender, executive director of East End Main Street.

Cavender said he is proud of Moxxee Coffee and that its owners chose to be a part of the city's revitalization of the East End.

"I knew it was going to be a hit. They know how to make a good product and far exceeded everyone's expectations," Cavender said. "I knew from working with them from day one when they purchased the building, from their business plan and cutting-edge technology, that they had potential."

Vicki Shawl, of Charleston, sat in a padded bench against the shop's gray walls with her laptop and tall cup of coffee Tuesday afternoon. Shawl said she frequents the East End shop monthly because of the good coffee, free wireless Internet and parking.

"I like the atmosphere," Shawl said. "It's a very unique place and very different than coffee shops in big cities."

West Virginia State University student Jordan O'Dell sat at a table tucked away in the back corner of the shop. His laptop, notes full of numbers and cup of Moxxee coffee sat on top of the metal table. O'Dell said he frequents the coffee shop several times a week because "it's the best coffee in Charleston."

On the other side of the shop, Charleston resident Mary Beth Kirkpatrick sipped on her caffeine-filled coffee. While she isn't admittedly a coffee enthusiast - she said she prefers decaffeinated coffee, which is "very good" at Moxxee - the East End shop is her only option.

"If I do want good coffee, I come here," Kirkpatrick said. "I've heard they go to South Africa and that's unique because they know where their product is coming from."

Baldwin said Moxxee Coffee has a "huge demographic" of customers and he likes it that way.

Most coffee shops incorporate wood in their design, but Baldwin said he didn't want his customers to expect that look. That's why the shop's bar - made by Baldwin's friend, metal artist Mark Nicoll - consists of 900 pieces of metal.

"When you go into a coffee shop, typically it's made of wood so when you walk into Moxxee, you know you're getting something different," Baldwin said. "We didn't want a place that is just for college students, hipsters or professionals. They feel comfortable and don't have to come in with a label."

Reach Megan Workman at megan.workman@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.


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