AFTON--The smell of freshly ground coffee wafts over the fields behind a popular community center in Nelson County and up into the Blue Ridge Mountains, welcoming people in need of a relaxing place to get out of the heat for a minute and a quick caffeine boost to get through the day.
Trager Brothers Coffee, a small-batch, organic coffee company, began working on opening a second location in the Rockfish Valley Community Center in 2013 to add to their Lovingston location. Six years later, the on-site roastery, called TBC 2.0, is a familiar spot to locals stopping by the community center. The walls covered in artwork by artists as young as 14 and the floors covered in sacks of coffee beans create a welcoming environment for the community.
Jamil Miller, 18, and Kosa Perrie, 17, have both been coming to TBC 2.0 for years. Both men grew up in Nelson County and said it’s nice to have this local spot where everyone knows everyone.
“I like the small town vibe,” Perrie said. “You walk in ‘no shirt, no shoes, no problem,’” he laughed.
Miller argues TBC has the best coffee in the valley and the roastery with the view of the Blue Ridge Mountains provides a “warm, comfortable feeling.”
“The views are just the best,” Perrie said as he sat at a wooden table in the shade outside the roastery and looked out at the mountains, sipping his drink, this past Wednesday afternoon.
As people wander in, either by themselves or with their kids, friends, or dogs, smells and smiles fill the small spot in the back of the community center. Moms walk in to get coffee for themselves and chocolate milk for their kids. Working individuals stop by in the morning to say hi and get their caffeine boost to go. Teenagers like Perrie and Miller get a drink before heading to the fields in the back to hang out and enjoy the scenery.
For locals and visitors alike, TBC 2.0 is a unique spot to discover. Most people greet one of the baristas, Sally Rose Monnes, by name or affectionately with “Hey, SR!”
Monnes has worked for TBC for 11 years total, the last four of which she has spent working in Afton.
Monnes described the roastery as a “super laid-back, very chill environment.”
“My clientele are locals, blue-collar workers, and families. I see the same people who hang out and chat. It’s relaxed and low-key,” Monnes said.
Many people wandering in spend at least a few minutes chatting with neighbors they run into. Others sit on a barstool, catching up with Monnes, while coffee beans are roasted nearby.
Other people who lease space in the building stop by during breaks in their day for a “pick-me-up.”
The relaxed atmosphere of the small space in the back of the community center provides the community-centered feeling William Trager, co-founder of TBC, was going for when he and his brother Joe and life-long friend Doug moved to Central Virginia to expand their business idea over 20 years ago.
“The thing that is really unique about that location is the rural nature of it. Basically you can ride up on your horse and get a latte and get the same experience you would in New York or Seattle,” Trager said. “The whole idea is to make it accessible to everyone.”
TBC in the RVCC is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. The Lovingston location is open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.
Erin Conway covers Nelson County for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5524.