Bold and Strong: Coffee Chat with Coffee Roaster Larry Hancock

Larry Hancock, founder of Legacy Roasting

Last year, I had the pleasure of meeting Larry Hancock, founder of Legacy Roasting in Hopewell, VA. My children and I visited his store on Library Street that is housed in a 1920s historic brick building. We learned a little about the roasting process, held raw coffee beans, and purchased several bags of coffee to take home. I was an instant fan of both coffee (The Wonder City Blend is my favorite) and owner. 

For my first coffee chat of the year, I am thrilled to be talking with Larry about entrepreneurship, parenting, and building community. Larry has a lot brewing in 2021 – both personally and professionally – and he’s ready to spill the beans!

Me: So, you own a coffee roasting company, but are you a regular coffee drinker? What are some of your favorite beverages? 

Larry: I’m more of a social coffee drinker as opposed to a functional one. Instead of needing a cup of coffee every morning (to get through the day), I’m more likely to drink coffee when I’m hanging out with others or when I’m doing coffee drop-offs. Ultimately, I love how coffee brings people together, whether I’m meeting friends or supporting the local shops we work with. I judge a product by tasting attributes. Coffee is a subjective beverage, however, so the presentation by the barista also plays a part. My go-to beverage is a cortado when I can stop and drink coffee, a pour-over when I have plenty of time to sit and relax, and a mocha when I’m on the go. 

Me: How did you start your business? What were the early days like when you first opened?

Larry: Legacy Roasting Company was started in February 2014 in my parents’ garage. My dad found that a Chevy windshield wiper motor turned at the right RPM to turn a metal drum over the grill flame. We primarily sold to friends and family and at the farmers market. It was a great way to test the brand and meet folks in our community. 

Me: What are some of your professional goals?

Larry: My goal is to continue a community-minded business model. A company called Zingermans in Ann Arbor, Michigan influenced how I view business. Basically what I learned about making an impact in your community is: 1. Listen to the needs of your community and 2. Build opportunities for it. Legacy Roasting hopes to move to a job development model where people can come in and start as an internship to learn job skills and then from there they could stay employed at Legacy Roasting, or we could help them start their own business. Going into 2021, I would like to build a real estate side to the business to allow more affordable housing to the tri cities area. 

Me: What is the most stressful part about parenting? What are you enjoying about raising children?

Larry: Since living as an entrepreneur includes wearing all the different hats, the most stressful part is always making sure I can be the best dad possible. I want my kids to know I love them. I’m fortunate to have a loving wife and family who support me, so it does make it easier. I just always want to make sure I understand my “why” in everything I do. What I enjoy most about parenting is it has deepened my wife’s and my relationship. We’ve learned to communicate better. I also enjoy how my daughter has taught me to find wonder in what seems like the simple things in life. Now that we have one daughter and identical twin girls on the way, I’m really regretting our current house choice – we only have one shower! All jokes aside, I think the biggest thing I didn’t realize is by having a kid, your “why” in life changes dramatically. My need for personal time has shifted to  “I want to make sure my kid is loved and cherished, and I would do anything for her to know she is loved”. 

Me: What would you like your “Legacy” to be?

Larry: “Freely you have received; freely give.” – Matthew 10:8. I would want my legacy not to be about what I created, but be measured by the positive impact that can be felt in a community (fewer individuals who are homeless, more jobs, less crime, etc.). Time is our most valuable asset, and how we spend it counts. We should be willing to freely give it in the areas that matter most. 

Me: How can customers learn more about Legacy?

Larry: Customers can order online, or follow our journey by going to legacyroasting.com. We offer local delivery, shipping across the US, and coffee subscription programs. 

***Purchase your copy of I Love You More Than Coffee.

Order Now for Christmas!

With more than seventy 5-star reviews on Amazon, I Love You More Than Coffee is the perfect gift this season. Pair it with a decorative mug or a favorite bagged coffee for a cozy, thoughtful gift.

Plus, it’s currently on sale at Amazon for only $13.18, and it will ship in time for Christmas if ordered soon!

Happy Holidays!

Bold and Strong: Coffee Chat with Bookshop Manager Melanie Ferguson

Melanie Ferguson – bbgb shop manager and buyer

by Melissa Face

I have been rooting for independent bookstores since I first saw Meg Ryan star in You’ve Got Mail. Anyone who has seen the film knows that F-O-X may as well have spelled an obscenity. In recent months, however, COVID has been the real threat to independent stores; so, it made sense for me to celebrate one of Richmond’s local treasures during the month of December. 

Please grab your favorite beverage; make yourself comfortable, and join Melanie Ferguson – shop manager and buyer of bbgb books – and me, as we chat about her background, the job of a bookstore manager, and the vital role that an independent bookstore plays within a community. And please, consider bbgb books and other independently owned stores for your shopping needs this holiday season!

Me: Tell me about your coffee habit. Are you a daily coffee drinker?

Melanie: Oh yes! We like to say that bbgb is fueled by Sugar & Twine. I usually go for their oat milk latte, but I’m not really the type to turn down any coffee.

Me: Tell me a little about your beginnings as a bookshop manager and buyer.

Melanie: I actually majored in entrepreneurship and family business as an undergrad, with hopes of owning a bookshop one day, but of course no path is quite that straightforward. I had a few odd jobs following graduation and then took a part-time job in a school library while working on my Masters in Library and Information Sciences. The school held a book fair with bbgb each year, which is how I met the shop owner, Jill. I called her after the fair and asked if she needed any help. A few weeks later, I was working school book fairs for them and was hooked. I finished my degree and am now the shop manager and buyer. It’s such a special shop with a tightly curated collection which makes it especially fun to buy for. 

Me: Describe a time in childhood when you were completely enchanted with a book.

Melanie: Just one?! My childhood was shaped by the books I read and characters that inspired me. Daisy-Head Mayzie was one that had a big impact on me. I memorized the entire thing before I learned how to read (I’m sure my mom still has nightmares about reading it so many times). Eloise was another favorite, I was (and still am) drawn to books with quirky protagonists that know exactly who they are. Once I was able to read on my own, I read just about anything I could get my hands on. 

Me: What is the process like when a new book you’ve ordered arrives at the store? What do you have to do?

Melanie: New books release on Tuesday, so Mondays are like Christmas morning in the shop. We make it a point to read just about every book before we order it, so by the time a book arrives, we already know we love it and can’t wait to start hand-selling it. As the buyer, most of my work happens before the books get to the shop. But I do the merchandising in the shop too, so it’s always fun to find the perfect spot for a new book on the shelves. 

Me: How do you go about making recommendations for readers?

Melanie: I always start by asking what books the reader has enjoyed recently. That usually gives me a good sense of what types of books they like and what their reading ability is. A lot of times when they name a book they’ve loved it sparks an idea for me, and I will start booktalking. Once I’m telling them about books, I can really fine-tune suggestions based on their reactions to certain titles.

Me: What are you most looking forward to about resuming normal business operations?

Melanie: Hand-selling, hands down! I’m sure it’s no surprise that we love to talk about books here. It’s been odd not having any kids in the shop; that’s when I get to hear all about what books kids have been enjoying and also tell them about my favorites. We just recently opened by appointment, so we are really enjoying sharing the wonderful stories that came in while everyone was staying home.

Me: How is an independent bookstore an important part of the community?

Melanie: I’ve always found something magical about independent bookstores, each one has its own unique personality and gives bookselling a special twist. Indies, no matter where they are, have the wonderful opportunity to truly know their readers and community. One of the most important things to us at the shop is giving back to our own community. We donate as many books as we possibly can to kids and educators. Currently, we are donating books to the Lit Limo to help get new books into the hands of Richmond Public School kids who are learning from home and don’t have the same access to their school libraries. We know that books have the power to help us empathize, grow, and bring us together. As an independent bookstore, we love being able to find those gems and share them with our community. 

This holiday season, shop bbgb books online, or schedule a private, in-shop appointment. Learn more here.

***Order your copy of I Love You More Than Coffee.

Shop Local, Shop Legacy Roasting Company

Publishing my debut collection, I Love You More Than Coffee, during a pandemic has definitely presented a few challenges. Like most authors, I have had to cancel many in-person events, which makes spreading the word about a new book very difficult.

Despite a few setbacks, this journey has still been a dream come true, and a large part of that is due to the local support I have received. Recently, I partnered with Legacy Roasting Company, a coffee roaster in Hopewell, VA. We are currently offering a holiday gift bundle that includes a copy of my book and a half pound bag of I Love You More Than Coffee special coffee blend.

This bundle retails for $23.99 but is currently on sale for $19.95! Shop early. Shop small. Shop Legacy.

https://www.legacyroasting.com/product-page/i-love-you-more-than-coffee-gift-bundle

Whether you are a new or seasoned parent, you will find common ground in Melissa Face’s heartfelt, humorous, and authentic stories of her life with two young children. If you love coffee a lot and your kids (a little) more, this book is for you. Fill your mug and settle in with I Love You More Than Coffee.

Visits with Pop

Delaney, Pop, and Evan

By Melissa Face

My children spot their grandparents’ vehicle from an upstairs window. They drop their iPads and tablets and run to the front door where they press their smiling faces against the glass. My mom gets out of the car with her bag of treats and walks toward the front porch.

“Where is Pop?” Delaney asks Evan.

“Maybe he’s getting something out of the trunk,” Evan replies.

“I don’t see him,” she says.

My mom rings the doorbell and the kids open the door and ask, together, “Where’s Pop?”

“He’s playing golf,” she tells them. “It’s just me today.”

“Aw, man! I had some things I needed to show him,” Evan says.

If my mom is offended by the overt snub, it doesn’t show. When Pop is around, he is the star, the rest of us just extras. My children compete for his attention and work to impress him with the most recent trick they’ve learned: a cartwheel, a cannonball in the pool, or a knock-knock joke.

“Pop! Come watch me ride my bike!”

“Do you want to play outside with me?”

“Pop! Let’s go to my room and look at stuff!”

They hold his hand, sit in his lap, and wrap their arms around his neck. When each visit comes to an end, they cling to him and beg him to stay.

“Just a few more minutes, Pop,” Delaney says. “I need to show you one more thing in my room.”

He agrees and climbs the stairs to my daughter’s room where she shows him her belongings with the detailed explanation of a museum curator. He examines the tiny bottles of glittery nail polish and cat figurines with awe and pretends to be seeing them all for the first time.

“On your way out, can you just look at something on my bike?” Evan asks.

“I reckon I can,” Pop laughs.

“See this attachment? Now when I pedal my bike, it sounds like an engine! Listen, Pop!”

Evan speeds across the yard and shows Pop his tricks. He stands, then lets go of his hands, as he escorts Pop to his car. 

***

“Please. Take me with you,” Evan begs. “I won’t talk or even make a sound. I’ll just sit in the corner.”

“Not this time,” I tell him. “I want to see Pop by myself.”

I don’t do it often, but sometimes I need to visit my dad alone. We eat take-out and chat about the pandemic, world issues, and a personal situation that is bothering me. I don’t need him to fix this particular problem, only listen. He does, and I feel better immediately.

There were times when I did need my dad to fix things, though. He once climbed under my bed to console me when I was a child, and he waited patiently through teenage sobbing to tell me that no boy was worth my tears. He made small repairs to my car each time I came home on college breaks and checked the air in my tires before I left again. He helped me move into my first apartment and stayed a few days to assemble, straighten, and adjust my new furniture. 

Even as an adult, a visit to my house usually includes my dad tightening a wiggly door handle, repairing an appliance, or fixing a grandchild’s toy. When it comes to household items and my spirits, my dad simply makes everything better.

In this stage of our relationship, I value my dad as both parent and friend. I am grateful for his humor, wisdom, and calm demeanor, a part of my life that has remained constant when few things have. I am glad he and my children are close, and I understand, better than anyone, when they complain that visits with him never last long enough.

***Previously published in Prairie Times, Nov. 2020.