Gathering at Pisgah Brewing over coffee and a school

Fred McCormick

A pair of events at Pisgah Brewing Co. illustrate how diverse the gathering place is.

The first, at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 12, will be held in conjunction with the brewery’s longtime neighbor, Dynamite Roasting Co. The second, held April 17, will be Pisgah Brewing’s 11-year anniversary celebration, an outdoor party.

On April 12, Dynamite Roasting will host what co-owner Andy Gibbon refers to as “an evening of education and cultural exchange” at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 12. Iliana Cardona and Oscar Omar Alonzo, coffee farmers from Marcala, Honduras, will speak about their experiences growing organic coffee in mountainous Marcala, Honduras.

“We have been traveling to visit the COMSA (Café Orgánico Marcala S.A.) co-op for around four years now,” Gibbon said. “We just returned from our fourth trip. We go down and will taste as many as 120 coffees in three days. The trip is a buying trip, but while we’re there we tour farms and meet the farmers. And over the last four years we’ve become friends with many of them.”

Since it opened in 2008, Dynamite Roasting Co. has purchased only certified fair trade coffee. The designation ensures farmers are paid a certain minimum for the coffee they grow.

“It’s been part of what we do since we started,” Gibbon said. “The more you learn about the coffee supply chain and how many people are involved, you see that everybody has to get their cut. And the ones that lose are almost always the farmers at the bottom of the chain.”

The fair trade program has helped Alonzo establish a thriving coffee farm in Honduras, known as Finca Cual Bicicleta.

“To see the program grow down there and see the way that these farmers have been able to take the money and reinvest it has been great,” Gibbon said.

Pisgah Brewing’s 11-year anniversary on April 17 will feature music by Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, TAUK and Marcus King Band. One dollar of the $11 admission will go to ArtSpace Charter School, the site of severe flooding last December.

“After the damaging flood that overtook the classrooms at ArtSpace over the Christmas holiday, it was crucial that local businesses and partners stepped to the plate to help their cause of a quick repair,” Benton Wharton, Pisgah Brewing’s events manager, said in an email. “ArtSpace is literally our neighbor, and we take the element of community very seriously here at Pisgah. It is only right that we attempt to step up on behalf of our brothers and sisters in the greater WNC region whenever we can.”

Josh Batenhorst, ArtSpace’s development manager, said the school is “very grateful” for the community’s support. He said the school is spending money to prevent similar flooding.

“It’s going to be expensive to really fix the issue, which is on the northwest side of the building,” he said. “We’ve already had an engineer draw up plans, and now is really the time to start the process of rectifying it.”

Gates open for the party at 4 p.m.