Spot the Shop: Dynamite Roasting Co. on producing coffee and electricity

Karrigan Monk
Black Mountain News
Andy Gibbon, one of the founders of Dynamite Coffee Co., started as a hobbyist roaster in his kitchen.

What started as a hobby in a kitchen has turned into a successful Black Mountain business. 

Dynamite Roasting Co.'s Andy Gibbon began working as a barista in his early 20s. 

"I found it was a great skill set to have," Gibbon said. "It allowed me to travel around. I could find a job in most places that I would show up. It's a nice way to interact with the community in a new place. While working as a barista, I just fell in love with coffee and everything about it, both the environment it's served in and the interesting back store all the way back to the farmers."

When he moved to Asheville in 2001, he began working as a brewer at Highland Brewing Company, among others. At home, he started roasting coffee as a hobby. 

"I got really quick results and got excited by what I was doing and decided there was a good possibility for starting a business," Gibbon said. "At the time, there just weren't really many coffee roasters around and certainly not doing it the way I wanted to do coffee, which was sustainable."

Gibbon was also playing in a band at the time with Josh Gibbs, who had a background in marketing. They teamed up to form Dynamite Roasting Co. 

Today, Dynamite Roasting Co. has a coffee bar on U.S. 70 in Black Mountain and a production facility in Swannanoa, and they've achieved Gibbon's original goal of being sustainable. All their coffee is certified fair trade and organic. 

The company now has about 15 employees between the coffee bar and production facility, the latter of which was built less than two years ago. 

A little more than a decade ago, the company brought on Thomas Lussier as head roaster.

Thomas Lussier, head roaster at Dynamite Coffee Co., stands in front of their coffee roaster.

Having worked in the coffee business since 1995, he was a natural fit for the company. Lussier has worked in nearly every aspect of the coffee business, from roasting and importing to quality control and producer relations, all of which he said he enjoys. 

"Once you dig into it, it's just enormous," Lussier said. "So many fun avenues."

He works in the production facility in Swannanoa where Dynamite Roasting Co. will roast about 250,000 pounds of coffee this year, roasting weekdays. While most of their business is in Western North Carolina, the company also distributes around the Southeast as well as to other states like Michigan and Ohio. 

"I get to do it everyday," Lussier said. "I get to come in and roast coffee and taste coffee and do all those aspects of it. Talk about the producer relations and put a great product out there for people to enjoy. It's really pretty fulfilling." 

In addition to producing coffee, Dynamite Roasting Co. also produces electricity for its own use. With the help of solar panels on its roofs, the company is able to produce 15 times the electricity needed for its day-to-day operations. 

The company also purchased an electric Ford transit delivery vehicle that it charges using the excess electricity created by the solar panels. 

"It generates no carbon emission whatsoever, so both when you're driving and the electricity that is generated to power it," Gibbon said. "It's been really great with grants and tax credits and things like that. The solar panels themselves were very affordable. It was just a really sort of win-win-win situation."

Despite being a successful business, Gibbon said he did feel the effects of the pandemic. He said with supply chain issues and rising costs, it felt like they Dynamite was navigating a "whole new world."

"We felt pretty well-established, and then pretty much overnight everything changed," Gibbon said. "But we're coming out the other side strong and we're feeling pretty good about it."

Gibbon said he hopes to continue providing high-quality coffee to Western North Carolina while also still being able to support the farmers he works with and be a valued part of the community. 

"I really love being able to work with a product that excites me and be able to share it with my community," Gibbon said. "The interactions with the local community have been the most unexpected, but most rewarding part of being in business here in Black Mountain."