August 16, 2013


Custom Edition:  Hillsborough Cup A Joe

Cup A Joe, in historic downtown Hillsborough, NC, has got to be one of my favorite coffee shops anywhere. For real. It's inside a narrow old brick building, situated between an excellent locally-sourced Italian restaurant and a fish and game shop that takes you right back in time. Super rad and so very, very Hillsborough.

All you notice when you first walk inside are just a few retro tables nestled right up against beautiful raw brick, but as you walk farther back to the counter you can't believe your eyes. The pastries. Brooke, who owns the shop with her husband Ryan, makes the most amazing little treats with such quality and such variety, you immediately start craning your neck around to try and find the hidden kitchen. Where do they come from?? (The answer, of course, is that she rents time in a certified kitchen off premises. You can stop craning your neck now and go back to admiring the pastries.)  

I intended to scour Cup A Joe's Facebook feed for examples of all the wonderful treats they offer but got no further than what they posted just four hours ago. Today's selection? Flourless pistachio cookies, salty chocolate tarts, bourbon caramel peach hand pies, nectarine raspberry hand pies, tomato basil hand pies, plus everyone's favorite--oatmeal fudgy bars. It's like this all the time. And I'd be remiss if I didn't also add: Cup A Joe was originally owned by my all-time favorite coffee roasters, Joe Van Gogh, and Brooke and Ryan still serve those perfect beans. Between the quality of the coffee, the apple pie with cheddar crust, and Brooke's vintage apron habit, Cup A Joe has my heart forever.

The shirts! I am supposed to be writing about shirts. Every year, Flytrap cooks up some limited edition tees for the shop, and we just finished up the 2013 batch. They feature hand lettering against a finely detailed backdrop; they come in both a unisex and a women's cut; and there are 133 of them--or at least there were last week. Once they're gone, they're gone forever. (I mean, gone until next year, when I'm sure we'll do an equally exciting new design.)  

This year's lettering was fun from beginning to end. My design process took a circuitous route from sketchbook to scanner to computer screen and back again, three times. I think the end result is easily legible like a digitally-made design, but also accessible and warm. Like a fruit tart, say. Just for example.

This is the back of one of the screens.  This layer is proof that I was sheerly unable to even think about Cup A Joe without thinking of pie. Also blueberries. Also pie.

The finished product! I couldn't help but print one for myself--I practically live in the one I kept from last year. Y'all local readers do yourselves a favor and take a day trip to Hillsborough. Go to Cup A Joe, get a snack, and drive over to Ayr Mount for a picnic. You can lie on a blanket underneath a magnificent old tree and pretend you're a resident of Downton Abbey, nibbling on your delicate fruit tarts and sipping a cup of coffee before taking a stroll down to the Eno River.

I'll leave you with a couple of my favorite detail shots as well as a big thank you to Brooke and Ryan!  We really couldn't hope for more genuine, warmer people to work with. Plus the pies, always with the pies. Who could ask for more?


(My personal favorite detail. That "g" is my new pet.) Over and out!

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