“When we say fresh, roasted coffee, we mean it,” says General Manager at Wheeling Coffee and Spice Shelly Smedley with a proud and satisfied smile on her face. Located on 14th Street in Wheeling Coffee and Spice has been home to massive Burns coffee roasters since 1886, when it first opened as Joseph Speidel Grocers. For most of its history, Wheeling Coffee and Spice served as a wholesale distribution center for products such as beans, corn, and, of course, coffee. That is until 1999 when renovations were made to the historic building allowing for a gourmet coffee shop to be added to its first floor. Today, surrounded by West Virginia-themed decor and Wheeling feeling friendliness, the coffee shop provides the perfect morning (or mid-afternoon…or evening) pick-me-up with a truly unique take on fresh coffee.
How do they do it? Wheeling Coffee and Spice utilize roasters that were placed in the building more than 100 years ago. Once coal or wood-burning, the roasters were converted to natural gas and have been used in the production of coffee in the facility since its opening. In addition to Smedley, the roasters and the production processes are overseen by Master Roaster, Larry Sprowls.
This process begins by procuring beans from locations such as Nicaragua, Brazil, and Columbia through Coffee Holdings, a brokerage in New York City that ensures the beans are the best of the best. Sprowls begins by weighing beans on a scale that, like the roasters, is over 100 years old. After entering the roasters, the beans will roast thoroughly until entering the hopper, which is all air-cooled for a minimum of twenty minutes with custom leather belts constructed by Wheeling’s very own Wheeling Rubber. The beans then re-enter their burlap bag, and head upstairs on an elevator chute to the store’s grinding system, capable of grinding 400-500 pounds at a time. Once ground, the coffee is packaged in-store for sale purposes. According to Smedley, the roasting process itself takes anywhere from an hour and forty minutes to two hours and thirty minutes depending on the roast and the weight.
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Wheeling Coffee and Spice sources its beans from popular destinations such as Nicaragua, Brazil, and Columbia.
These giant roasters have been in use for more than 100 years!
This 100 year-old scale weighs all of the beans prior to roasting.
“It’s very labor intensive; we don’t keep a large inventory on hand because our coffee is less than thirty days old. When you get your coffee, it is typically less than one to two weeks old,” states Smedley. Taking over Wheeling Coffee and Spice in her retirement, Smedley has been the general manager for a little over four years. She smiles when she explains that everything in the back of the store is the “work part” which allows for the “fun part,” clearly present in the front of the store.
Wheeling Coffee and Spice has become a haven for many local groups, such as a group of gentlemen that meet daily at 7 a.m. to enjoy their morning cup of coffee socially, or the Ladies of the Knit that meet in the shop’s lounge area every Tuesday and Thursday to knit materials for local businesses and organizations, such as WVU Medicine’s NICU. Multiple customers have filtered in, ordering a variety of drinks throughout the duration of the morning with a barista who smiles with purpose at each individual. With the freshest coffee in Wheeling, all who enter have every reason to smile. Be sure to stop in at Wheeling Coffee and Spice for a chance to experience these amazing roasters firsthand.
•Karin Butyn was born and raised in Wheeling, WV. A graduate of Wheeling Central, West Liberty University, and Wheeling Jesuit University, Karin spent nearly a decade teaching both English as Second Language and Reading Language Arts. She is currently in her third year as an Assistant Principal for Ohio County Schools. In her free time, she enjoys running and music. She and her husband, TJ, are raising their young sons, Finn and Watson, in Warwood.