Moxxee: West Virginia’s 'Anti-Coffee Shop'

An unexpected haven for coffee geeks in Charleston, W.Va.

Elizabeth Haddad

Charleston, W. Va., doesn’t get much credit in the "culture" department. In fact, its existence is often in question. One either confuses the city itself with another Charleston, usually the beautiful, historical Southern city in South Carolina; or better yet, the state is often misconstrued as a geographical region of another state — the "western part of Virginia." If you come from West Virginia, as I do, these are battles we are forever burdened to take on, born into a constant struggle to defend the validity of our home state.

West Virginia does have its selling points. There’s football (the West Virginia University Mountaineers — always the underdogs, no matter how many times they win, or break records), the New River Gorge, stunning mountains, the luxurious Greenbrier Resort, world-class white-water rafting, quaint towns, friendly folk with Southern manners, and of course, coal (as controversial as it is). Charleston, the capital city, is beautiful — a cityscape along the river with a famous gold dome looming above, and 20th-century architecture dotting city proper. In the first half of the 20th century, the downtown was thriving, but it slowly became a "nine-to-five" kind of place — the fate of many American cities.

Though, young and vibrant talent are moving back to the city, in hopes of a resurrection. But with all this cultural resurgence, Charleston was still missing specialty coffee, something Jon Farmer particularly noticed.

"When we travel, we always ask two questions: where are we going to eat, and where are we going to get coffee?" Jon tells me over coffee at Moxxee, the cafe he co-owns. The idea for Moxxee was conceived at Toronto-based Bulldog Coffee, where Jon and friends (and future partners) travel each year to attend the Toronto Film Festival. They decided they needed to bring their "coffee geekness to Charleston," Jon says with a laugh. They hatched the idea at Bulldog, and "…one week later, I bought this building," he recalls, referring to the cafe on the corner of Morris and Lee Street in Charleston.

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