By C.V. Moore
Coffee lovers in Fayetteville are humming a new tune.
With the recent opening of Musical Grounds European Coffeehouse, “third wave coffee” has hit southern West Virginia. The cafe joins places like Moxxee in Charleston and TipTop in Thomas, where coffee is appreciated like a fine wine.
The shop sources its beans from PT’s Coffee Roasting Co., one of the top larger roasters of specialty coffee in the country. The top-of-the-line beans arrive fresh at the shop, two days after they are roasted.
In addition to more typical espresso drinks, brewed coffee and French press, they offer pour-overs. Water is poured slowly through a filter cone containing the single-origin, direct-trade coffee. As the ground coffee “blooms” in the hot water, it emits a perfume-like aroma.
The end result is a balanced, smooth, rich cup of coffee with no hint of bitterness.
“Making great coffee is 100 percent chemistry,” says Joe Dangerfield, who opened Musical Grounds in early June with his wife, Ami.
“We measure down to a tenth of a gram. The water is a certain temperature. And the balance between the water and the coffee has to be exactly right.”
You won’t find acres of flavor-ed syrups at Musical Grounds. Instead, the Dangerfields serve two house-made sweeteners, vanilla and chocolate.
“When you extract the espresso correctly and heat the milk correctly, you bring out the natural sweetness and lipids in the milk and espresso beans, so you don’t need a lot of syrup to cover the bitterness of typical coffees. ... We’re not perpetuating that super-sweet coffee culture,” says Joe.
“How many people have come in and tasted the coffee and said, ‘I don’t even need sugar and cream?’” says Ami.
For those who are curious, Joe will explain the brewing process in detail as he fills an order.
“I’d like to become West Virginia’s destination for coffee,” he says.
The Dangerfields are also eager to be a part of the renaissance of downtown Fayetteville.
Musical Grounds set up shop in the recently renovated Ankrom-Dickerson House, the centerpiece of a future downtown development known as the Henry Street Project.
The 1870s-era home has undergone a radical makeover of late, transforming from the “creepy squatter house” of Joe’s youth to a bright, pleasant space that showcases beautiful historic features like a carved wooden staircase, a restored door and gingerbread railings on its upper verandah.
The Dangerfields saw the building’s potential and helped convince the property owner to save it rather than raze it. Structural engineers said it was doable if they acted fast.
The Ankroms were one of the original families in Fayetteville; a carved stone out front is inscribed with the year 1818.
“It’s a lot of history to run over with a bulldozer,” says Joe.
The couple has built a new deck out front for al fresco sipping.
Now one of three places to buy espresso drinks in Fayetteville, the cafe is styled in the manner of a European coffee house.
The continental flair of their establishment reflects the couple’s love of music and their travels in Europe.
Both Ami and Joe are accomplished musicians. Ami plays the flute and earned a master’s degree in music history; Joe is a composer, pianist and conductor with a doctorate degree.
The decor and atmosphere of Musical Grounds were inspired by the couple’s travels in Europe and Russia while Joe was on a conducting tour. Great memories of sharing crepes in Paris and sipping coffee on the banks of the Moldau River fueled a long-standing dream to open a cafe.
They plan to hold house concerts and musical programs that offer something different from the live bluegrass, country and folk acts that can be heard at other venues in the region.
They hope to enrich Fayetteville’s arts scene with other cultural programs, too. On the afternoon of June 22, for example, a relative of Edgar Allen Poe, Harry Poe, will read from his cousin’s poetry and discuss his experience with the author.
In addition to coffee and other specialty drinks, the cafe serves light, house-made food like soup, salad, hot pressed sandwiches and quiche. Weekend specials have so far included crepes with local jam.
The Dangerfields hope to offer beer and wine in the future.
They’re trying to source goods and services locally whenever possible.
Fayetteville-based Virgin Timber Lumber Co. built a set of unique laptop counters from reclaimed lumber. Local food-crafter Irene Barker provides jams and bread. And the Fayetteville Arts Coalition has hung nearly all the art in the space.
Joe, a third-generation Fayette countian, graduated from Fayetteville High School in 1995. The couple met while studying at Marshall University. After years out of state, they came home to raise their three children and be close to family.
Musical Grounds is open from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week. It is located at 129 S. Court St. and can be reached at 304-574-4009.
For more information on the shop, visit the Musical Grounds European Coffeehouse page on Facebook or go to www.musicalgrounds.com.
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