Greer resident Andrew Carter is a self-described caffeine addict obsessed with crafting the perfect cup of coffee. So it wasn’t a big surprise to friends and family when he quit his job at BMW to open a coffee shop and smoothie bar.
Carter, 21, has bounced around from job to job since graduating high school in 2012. He began crafting custom wood and iron designs at The Heirloom Company in 2013. Then he became a product specialist at Greenville’s BMW in 2015. But coffee was his passion.
“I had thought about opening a restaurant for the longest time, but it just didn’t happen,” said Carter. “But then I thought about coffee, and about how it’s always been a big thing in my family. So I just decided to go for it.”
In December, Carter quit his job and decided to pursue his plan. He settled on the name “Barista Alley” and started searching for a location.
Carter scouted multiple spaces in downtown Greenville, Travelers Rest and Greer. And after months of searching, he found a 1,750-square-foot space at 125 East Poinsett St. in downtown Greer. In May, Carter signed the lease and solidified his efforts.
“There are just so many coffee shops already established in Greenville. And Travelers Rest has sort of reached its peak. But Greer has so much potential for more growth. There are businesses opening on a regular basis, and the timing was just right,” Carter said.
Carter submitted the proposed floor plan for his shop in June.
Before opening, he plans to completely renovate the building’s interior. It will feature a rustic-industrial theme that includes concrete floors, leather lounge chairs, round tables made of wood and cast iron and a coffee bar. The inside can seat about 45 people.
In addition, Carter is going to use the building’s 60-foot alleyway for 12 outdoor tables and a bar that attaches to an interior window-space. It will also feature an area for live music performances. The shop is expected to open in September.
Carter doesn’t yet have a complete menu as he’s still searching for suppliers. But so far, he has tried to purchase Southern-made products. Carter has purchased coffee beans from Charleston’s King Bean Coffee Roasters and 1000 Faces Coffee in Athens, Ga.
The menu will feature caffeinated beverages ranging from lattes to iced coffee. It will also feature pastries made by Shannon Mercado of Greenville’s Circa Doughnut and smoothies that use fruit and vegetables from Greenville’s Marvin’s Produce.
There will also be special menu items such as a latte in a waffle cone and ice cream in a shot glass that features whip cream and espresso. There will also be a monthly special that features a coffee-based beverage from a different country.
“The idea is to offer something different,” said Carter. “It’s a great concept. I actually got the idea from BuzzFeed. But I’m not going to offer anything too weird or gross.”
The menu will feature Germany’s Eiskaffee, Vietnam’s Ca Phe Sua Da, France’s Café Au Lait, Hong Kong’s Yuanyang and Ireland’s Irish coffee.
Carter is preparing for the store’s future as he plans on hiring a full-time and part-time employee sometime in October. Carter also plans on holding community activities.
“This isn’t just a coffee shop. It’s also a health bar. So I want to do things that are good for the community,” said Carter. “I’m looking at a lot of different options.”
Carter plans on clearing the shop’s interior once a week for a free yoga class taught by a local instructor. The classes are expected to start shortly after the store’s opening. Carter also wants to hold a race for a local charity sometime in 2017. However, a date isn’t set.
For more information, visit www.baristaalley.com