Disguised by a minimalistic façade and emblazoned with a bright blue letter “C,” the new Counter Culture Training Center at 85 ½ Spring Street is easy to overlook. However, given the North Carolina-based indie coffee roaster’s presence in the Holy City, supplying beans to local favorites like Black Tap and City Lights, as well as a number of restaurants like Edmund’s Oast and Bull Street Gourmet for the past few years, they fit right in.
Walking into the space itself, visitors can see that the former home of FuzzCo is divided into three flowing sections with the first room dedicated to espresso, the second to cuppings and tastings, and the third as a space for the latest in coffee industry equipment. But the training center promises more than just beans and brews. Counter Culture prides itself on bringing the community together through cutting-edge coffee education and taste exploration.
Founded in 1995, Counter Culture has sourced coffee directly from farmers and self-roasters, focusing on flavor for the past fifteen years. They offer a variety of single-origin coffees, limited-release offerings, and year-round selections, while keeping sustainability and transparency at their core.
With the announcement of Counter Culture’s opening in Charleston, local coffee connoisseurs Derrick Smith and Jared Sinclair had to get in on the endeavor. You may recognize Smith as a Kudu-alum, known for hosting monthly latte art competitions among area coffee shops, and Sinclair, who ran Charleston's first pour-over coffee bar, Hope and Union (now home to Brown's Court Bakery). Jesse Kahn, who works in Regional Wholesale Sales in NYC oversees design of the training centers, but the bearded duo of Smith and Sinclair (who have both been with the company for over a year), wanted to give the training center their own flair, adding an eclectic vinyl collection to the “come one, come all” welcoming atmosphere.
Jared Sinclair and Derrick Smith
The training center officially opened its doors to the public on July 25th, celebrating the Charleston opening in style with a whole-hog barbecue provided by The Pig Whistle of Chapel Hill, N.C., goods from local vendors, free coffee tastings, and more. The opening also marked Counter Culture’s 10th training center nationwide, with locations spanning the East Coast from New York to Atlanta, as well asin Chicago and as far West as Emeryville, CA.
In designing the space, Smith and Sinclair wanted it to be effortless—just another creative place for locals to hang out. Pop into the Spring Street location and see for yourselves or learn from the pros during the free "Tastings @ 10" series, offered every Friday, where visitors have the opportunity to explore and compare the unique blends that Counter Culture has to offer. —Nicole DeMarco
Guest blogger Nicole DeMarco is a proud College of Charleston graduate and avid coffee drinker. Hailing from a small town in Connecticut, she's constantly seeking the next big adventure. Nicole enjoys brown sugar lattes, hot yoga, and anything/everything French.