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Inside, a large wooden counter with a swinging gate in the center divides the space. The front of the store has seating for seven people, depending on whether you're willing to sit on a tree stump. The back is dominated by the Portuguese-made cast-iron drum roaster, and behind it is a climbing wall, the only way to reach the shop's bookshelves. It has taken the better part of a year for Kolsto to erase the purple carpet and pink walls from the building's memory. The previous tenant was the payday-loan operation King of Kash.
"The carpet was worn where everybody would stand to get their loans," Kolsto says. "It was a harsh reality, never a good thing that you were going in there. We're happy to try and redeem the space."
Patrons stand in the same spot now, under a row of original screen prints — one is of a robot holding a bird like a falconer, another an elephant playing a tuba — above wooden shelves on a wall where an American flag once was mounted. It's Tuesday morning, production day at Oddly Correct, and Kolsto hopes to roast about 300 pounds — 12 minutes per 11-pound batch. Piles of brown-paper bags filled with roasted beans gradually stack up on the counter. Two men sit reading in mismatched chairs — one looks like a refugee captain's chair from a seafood restaurant — studiously ignoring the morning rush hour on Main.
On the other side of the shop, Schroeder measures a portion of beans to make a cup of coffee. He moved to Kansas City a month ago, leaving his job as a roaster for Brew Nerds in North Carolina in order to work with his brother-in-law.
"Kansas City has more of a coffee culture than Winston-Salem," he says. "There, they'd ask what was burning if we were roasting. Here, people are rediscovering that you can handcraft coffee."
Weighing the beans is the first of five steps in the method that Oddly Correct uses to prepare its drip coffee. Hot water from a metal kettle is poured over medium-ground beans in a slow, circular fashion, to ensure that the grounds are equally exposed to liquid. The freshly ground beans are inside a brown-paper filter that has been carefully folded into a ceramic coffee dripper that resembles a ridged coffee cup with a small hole in the bottom. The dripper sits on an iron stand. A mug rests underneath, slowly filling with brewed coffee.
The coffee at Oddly Correct isn't convenient, and that's the whole idea. Coffee takes labor to harvest, labor to ship, labor to roast. It matters when the beans are picked. It matters when it is sold and how it is stored. It matters how it is roasted and bagged. Schroeder and Kolsto are eager to share all of these steps with their customers, who comprise the final factor in a people-intensive beverage equation.
The people only need a bit of guidance. But he's no evangelist looking to purify your coffee soul. He and Schroeder are shamans in T-shirts, eager to guide each customer up the mountain —a mountain without a condiment bar.
"You put butter on your mashed potatoes and salt on your fries. Who are we to tell you how to take your coffee?" Kolsto says.
He won't tell you, but he also doesn't suggest an option besides black at Oddly Correct. The milk and sugar are stowed under the counter with nothing to indicate their presence. Among the first eight customers of the day, only a regular — a hairdresser from an adjacent shop on Westport Road — asks for cream and sugar, which he happily mixes for her. The rest are too busy watching the pour-over process to think to ask for milk.