The sight of a good ‘ole-fashioned white picket fence always give me a feeling of nostalgia, evoking warm thoughts of the small town where I was raised. I was delighted to find one framing the entrance of Cultivate Coffee Roasters.
Standing on the sidewalk in front of the coffeehouse, I had instant recall of the last time I’d been at that very spot. It was several years ago and I had just moved back to my home state of North Carolina after living in Washington, DC, and in Colorado before that, and had come here for a new driver’s license from the DMV office located right across the street.
I remembered that the location of Cultivate Coffee Roasters used to be an old ambulance hub. However, the proprietors of Cultivate have managed to make an old garage look… well, hip. The old garage door still stands, but now it’s a black lacquered, glass-paned window that provides sunlight to the space.
Sleek glass doors give entry to a classic, modern space where black, white and grey predominate the color scheme. The order counter is wrapped in classic wainscot paneling and I appreciated the glimpses of 18th-century Georgian design interspersed with modern furniture. Extending along an entire wall is a long wooden bench with beadboard-backing.
A school cafeteria-style letterboard menu displayed all of the offerings you’d expect to find in a dignified coffeehouse: Espresso, French Press, and Pour-over. A small sign on the counter informed that their coffee beans are roasted fresh several times a week on-site, so customers can experience the best cup possible. Conveniently, they offer take-home bags of whole coffee beans from Peru, Uganda and India.
The day’s on-tap fresh drip brews featured a dark roast bean from the farms of Mount Elgon, Uganda which suggested notes of green apple and raisin. A customer ordered an iced Mocha brewed with the Tanzania Tweega bean, promising notes of caramel and cherry. Being in a decadent mood, I ordered a hot Papua New Guinea brew which had a flavor profile of fig and chocolate.
The array of beverage offerings extended beyond coffee and espresso to include wine and craft beer. Mason jars lined the counter filled with loose leaf herbal teas in Citrus Mint Melange, Dragon Tears and Banana Nut Bread. There were homemade syrups in flavors like Vanilla Bean and Honey Lavender, infused elixirs that would certainly make an enticing accompaniment to a Darjeeling or Earl Grey tea.
And they have ice cream seasonally. Did I mention they have ice cream? Fancy a scoop of Vanilla Bean ice cream doused with a shot of hot espresso? Order the Affogato and you’ll instantly transport yourself to Italy. All summer long, they offer an assortment of glorious, creamy flavors made in-house like Cookies & Cream, Apple Cinnamon, Blueberry Lemon, and Bourbon Oak. My scoop of Rose ice cream was a perfect meld of rose water, vanilla and cream that only hinted at its floral bouquet.
While placing one’s order, you can’t help but see the baked goods display full of delectables made in-house by Bestow Bakery – ginger molasses and oatmeal raisin cookies, chocolate chip and maple pecan scones and an entire shelf devoted to lusciously topped cupcakes.
There is plenty of seating for the “for here” drinkers, making one feel welcome to stay and sip. In addition to the long wooden bench, there are several low couches and armless chairs located at the front by the window and in the rear, acting as tidy bookends for the wooden tables with padded chairs in between. Each couch and chair has a plump pillow for optimum comfort while enjoying a morning espresso or evening glass of wine.
Today’s patrons were a motley crew. There were casually dressed men engaged in quiet business discussions, several solitary sippers tuned to their laptops, and a few moms with small tykes, their faces smeared with gooey chocolate and frosting – everyone enjoying the welcoming environment that Cultivate exudes.
From my seat indoors, I saw that the garage door pulley system seemed to still be intact. On warm Spring days, I imagined it could open up to the outdoor patio seating area, a perfect spot for cold beverage sipping. With the today’s temperature reaching 85 degrees, the garage door was securely closed and the cool air-conditioning graciously kept indoors. Seated outdoors were couplings of women in exercise gear who all had that post-gym workout glow, casually chatting and enjoying sips of Kombucha and green tea. Inside and out, Cultivate offers a relaxed, friendly atmosphere where one might enjoy some space in their day.
I savored my last sips of coffee and pondered my next visit. I think, next time, I might return for breakfast and order a gourmet oatmeal in Morocco Spice or Blueberry Blitz. Or, perhaps, I will meet friends for a Saturday afternoon glass of Pinot Grigio or Malbec. Either way, I will definitely be back.
Cultivate Coffee Roastery is located at 128 S. Fuquay Avenue in Fuquay Varina, North Carolina. They are open on Sunday & Monday 9 a.m.- 5 p.m., Tuesday – Friday 7 a.m.- 6 p.m. and on Saturday 8 a.m.- 6 p.m.