What a year! Looking back at 2018.

We’ve introduced a lot of drinks this year, such as the beet lattes, Spicy Dragon, and latte freeze. The beet lattes were supposed to be just a Valentine’s Day special, but you probably know about how bad we are at pulling drinks from the menu… Below are some highlights from this year at Agora:

In February, one of our former baristas, Kristen, opened her own business downtown: Connect Games Escape Room! We’ve had fun following her business, which appears to have become an instant success, and trying out her escape rooms! Downtown Fredericksburg has been growing in many inspiring ways, and it’s wonderful to see some businesses centered around entertainment move in.

In March, we were honored to be the business recipient of the Living Green award by the Rappahannock Chapter of the Sierra Club! On a related note, we compost all our food scraps and coffee grounds. If anyone ever needs compost for their garden, bring over a bucket! We also keep our used coffee grounds in a bucket separated for a while until we dump it into the compost, so if anyone would like used coffee grounds for scrubs, beauty products, etc., let us know.  We have more used grounds than we can handle!

In May, we celebrated three years and our fourth year has been even busier, allowing us to expand our staff and bring in so many new wonderful members of the Agora family. Andi and I still can’t believe how quickly Agora has grown. We were also incredibly honored in May to have been voted by the community as #1 Best Coffee and Tea Shop in the Burg. Thank you to all our loving friends for this honor! We will continue to do our best to make Agora worthy of it.

Also in May, MJ took her first real vacation since opening Agora and flew to Washington State to take a multiple-day class in espresso machine repair by Nuova Simonelli! Ok, it wasn’t 100% a vacation, but there was a lot of hiking in there, too. 🙂

We encountered a beautiful challenge this year as Andi learned to balance being a business owner with being a mom. On September 15, Addelyn Elizabeth was born. It’s been challenging, but with all the extra hands in the kitchen, our baristas, and the help of our manager (Kacie) and our Assistant Manager (Richard), they’ve been wonderful at making the transition as easy as possible.

Also in September, we were gifted a masterpiece painting by our friend and local artist Beverly Toves. You can see Jess at the register and Heather behind her, our former barista Nic at the espresso grinder, and Andi and MJ in the front.

Customers are Tyler (at the register) and Mark in the back, but we aren’t sure who the girl is next to Tyler – so if you think you know who she is, please tell us! You can see this beautiful painting in person in the front room of Agora, and you can see other works of art by Beverly in Brush Strokes Gallery at 824 Caroline Street.  She has also done a gorgeous painting of the outside of Agora Downtown, which I believe might still be for sale!

The fall was filled with both tragedy and love… as our beloved scarecrow was stolen from us and not returned (although we had some fun with that when media stations reached out to us about wanting to do a feature on it!) but Small Business Saturday ended with the first marriage proposal at Agora between customers and we were delighted to witness it!

We also had a lot of fun setting up for the first official Fredericksburg Baseball event in Market Square – Richard and Andi manned an off-site setup with an espresso machine we borrowed from our friends at Ricks Roasters Coffee Company. We’re all looking forward to having a minor-league of our own in Fredericksburg – especially one so devoted to community and small businesses.

Photo by River Rock Outfitter

For our employee bonuses this year, we decided to do something a little different: their choice between the usual $100 bonus or their choice of Oboz shoes from River Rock Outfitter! After Andi and I both caved in and bought a pair earlier in the year, we discovered how incredible the right kind of shoes can be for your back. Since our employees have to be on their feet for the majority of their shifts, it was a gift that just made sense. What we didn’t expect was for almost all our employees to take the Oboz option. Note that this blog is not sponsored by Oboz or River Rock (although River Rock Outfitter is one of our favorite downtown businesses!). But if you happen to see one of our employees in their new Oboz shoes, go ahead and ask how they feel about them. 🙂

We’re expecting a fun expansion in January! We’ve been working hard the past several months at finishing the building behind Agora to turn it into a small roastery and mini kitchen (clarification: our mom, Kristy, and dad, Keith, have been doing most of the work and are excited to start roasting beans in a place other than their kitchen as a hobby!).  Pictures to come!  We’ve been working with Ricks Roasters Coffee Company, who has been our partner since before we opened, to be trained by them on roasting their beans, so we can move that part of the operation on-site. The kitchen side of the building will allow us to meet our growing demand so we can handle more pre-orders as well as keep our display case full.

A huge thank you to our wonderful family and to all of our employees this year – some of whom have moved on or moved away but are always in our thoughts – Kacie, Heather, Kristy (Mom), Keri, Kaley, Maggie, Selene, Nic, Jess, Mary, Richard, CeCe, John, Rachel, Sharon, Lauren, Brayden, Mary Grace, & Jen. You are the reason Agora has become such a special place for so many. Thank you for your smiles, your friendliness, your genuineness, and your hard work. We have loved having you!

Thank you also to our customers. Thank you for supporting us, for spreading the word to family and friends, and for enjoying Agora and the people at it. I have heard many of our employees talk about how wonderful it is working in a place where you not only enjoy your coworkers, but you love your customers, as well!

We’re looking forward to what 2019 brings, and we wish you all a Happy New Year!

With much love,

MJ & Andi

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