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Carson Clough, the owner of The Giddy Goat Coffee Roasters, is roasting coffee that smells and tastes so good that people can’t get enough of it. As the first crack from the roaster pops each morning, smoke flows through the streets of Charlotte’s Commonwealth neighborhood with the aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans.
Giddy Goat has been open for one year, and Clough said coffee sales thus far have exceeded his expectations. In turn, he has stepped up his purchases of unroasted coffee from farmers all over the world.
And now, the coffee shop/roastery is moving up — literally. Beginning Saturday, July 31, as part of its first birthday celebration, Giddy Goat will open a new space upstairs in its building on The Plaza, where it will serve beer and wine in the evenings.
The idea for Giddy Goat was born after Clough and his business partner, Rhyne Davis, went to Austria, Germany and Ireland to study the coffee industries overseas.
Clough had recently graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he studied biology, chemistry and entrepreneurship.
In Europe, the two found the vibe they wanted to bring back to Charlotte. “Rhyne had the brilliant idea of roasting in front of customers,” Clough said. “Letting them smell it, letting them see it, letting them hear me, Enzo or any of the other team members explain what’s going on — I think that really draws them in. When they start to understand that it’s not just muddy water or a caffeinated or decaffeinated drink … there’s a lot that goes into it, just the same as a craft beer or wine.”
Coffee beans come from all over the world, and beans from each region offer different flavor profiles, aromas and tasting notes. The degree to which a bean is roasted, whether it be a light, medium or dark roast, can determine the taste of the actual coffee. The Giddy Goat team inspects the beans during the roasting process, looking for for different color changes, smells and sounds of the first crack to determine the ideal roast.
Although the roasting machines in The Giddy Goat are all manual, Clough has been able to connect a computer to collect data that shows the environmental temperature around the beans, as well as the bean temperature. He can analyze the data to see the time between each reaction of the roasting process to get a visual idea of how the roasters can improve or recreate a roast.
“The cool thing about coffee and roasting is you can get really scientific and into it, or it can be just a great cup of coffee that helps you wake up in the morning — and you don’t want anything more than that,” Clough said.
It was an Ethiopian natural bean that lured Clough to the coffee scene. He was shocked that he could smell hints of blueberry from coffee beans.
“I used to think it was muddy water people drank to wake up and I drank to stay awake to study or just enjoy when it was cold outside. But getting that fragrance of blueberry tasting something artisan and craft and really starting to understand it is how I got into it,” Clough said.
Coffee in Commonwealth
Clough told CharlotteFive that he continues to be in awe of the roastery’s unique space in Commonwealth, on the edge of Charlotte’s Plaza Midwood. The building is slowly reaching its full potential but has room to grow: Clough said there are areas around the coffee house that can better serve its morning crowd. The new upstairs bar will offer a place to pause at the beer taps or relax on the couch before heading up to the building’s rooftop patio.
“I think it’s a good communal space for people to come socialize, work, meet people, come with people they already know, and just kind of have a cool experience outside of their house or office,” Clough said.
Customer John Fillette likes to get work done at The Giddy Goat because of the unique environment it offers.
“I like the welcoming atmosphere,” Fillette said. “When you come here, you feel almost like you’re in someone’s living room or house. It’s partially the building is so spacious, and there are so many cool places to sit, but it’s also the staff is so friendly and know people’s names, and you don’t really get that at some coffee shops or bigger chains. I feel really welcomed here, and the food and coffee is really good, too.”
Empanadas to go with your espresso
Turns out, the housemade empanadas are an X factor. The expert behind the flaky pastries is Tony Tognarelli.
Tognarelli’s light and flaky artisan empanadas are a complement to The Giddy Goat’s artisan coffee beverages. At his initial meeting with the team, he brought in 48 empanadas for Clough and Pazos to try.
“At some point, I started to get a little worried because they were eating nonstop, and I was worried that Carson was going to feel bad and ill after eating,” Tognarelli said. “But they loved it and he was an empanada survivor. And then we worked on flavors, and since that, we have not stopped increasing sales.”
Darion Fleming mural
Covering the entire wall on the side of the building is a large mural by local artist Darion Fleming, known as Da.Flamingo. It depicts hands holding a cup of coffee, but this is not the first scene painted on the side of the building. The original mural — also created by Fleming — was of a cut fish, which was more appropriate to the building’s prior tenant, Sushi Guru. Clough asked Fleming if he was interested in creating something more fitting for the coffee house.
“I’ll never forget, he was like, ‘Oh it’ll take maybe 20 days,’” and then he ended up going into such great detail, which is so easy to see on the hands, coffee, coffee plants — and it took a bit longer, but it was super fun,” Clough said.
The GOATS at the Goat
Speaking of art, the Giddy Goat team looks at coffee as a blank canvas. The customers that come in every day are the artists – seeking creations of iced vanilla lattes with oat milk and sugar or a classic quick shot of espresso.
“I got a solid team right now that I can’t be more thankful for,” said Clough. “They do everything, and I try to offer things, and each one offers their own skills, but for the most part everyone has learned a lot.”
You may see a tall Argentinian man either taking orders, roasting coffee or finding somewhere he can help out. That’s Enzo Pazos, an instrumental part of the Giddy Goat family. He met Clough last year and showed a similar interest in coffee, and the two have meshed well together, along with the rest of the team.
While roasting coffee during the day, Pazos said he is most proud of the organic growth at The Giddy Goat. When they first started, Clough and Pazos gave out free coffee through their large front windows and let potential customers try different roasts. Pazos believes their personalities shine through their coffee. It has shown them that being authentic can go a long way, without any advertising.
“I started working here last September without really thinking I was gonna stay,” Pazos said. “Then I met Carson and saw what he was doing, and I love the concept, the idea, roasting coffee, espresso machine. I’ve been here for 10 months now, and they’ve been great.”
Pazos has hopped around from Argentina, Florida and New York, but he sees himself staying in Charlotte for a long time because he loves what he gets to do every day.
Putting down roots in Charlotte
Tognarelli’s artisan empanadas, Giddy Goat’s new upstairs bar and other changes show that one year after the neighborhood favorite moved in, the roastery is continuing to grow.
“The Giddy Goat is an artisan concept that really moved me to what I’m doing in the culinary aspect. And working with a guy like Carson, he’s pioneering in so many ways, and I feel blessed I can share my knowledge of my past experiences in something that is just getting warm,” Tognarelli told CharlotteFive.
So tomorrow morning, if you wake up to the smell of freshly roasted coffee wafting down your street, you know where to go next. “If the lights are on, we have coffee,” Clough said.
Location: 1217 The Plaza, Charlotte NC, 28205
Neighborhood: Commonwealth/Plaza Midwood
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