Gene Ettison and J Hackett, owners of GRIND.

Gene Ettison and J Hackett, owners of GRIND.

Grind Coffee Co. Opening on Depot Street

Gene Ettison and J Hackett, owners of GRIND.
Gene Ettison and J Hackett, owners of GRIND.

Asheville’s first Black-owned coffee shop.

GRIND is a place for coffee. It’s also a place for co-working, and for events, team meetings, and business decisions. And for hanging out and enjoying the best coffee in town.

GRIND is in a plush, modern, sophisticated space located in Asheville’s River Arts District, and it’s the brainchild of entrepreneur and nonprofit leader J Hackett, who served as Executive Director of Green Opportunities from 2017 to 2019, and chef and investor Gene Ettison, founder of the Ettison Group and a known leader in the Black business community.

Open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., GRIND will feature Ashe-hole’s Coffee and a wide variety of donuts, pastries, ready-made sandwiches, and hot-press Paninis.

In discussing the background of GRIND, Hackett says, “Chef Gene and I have known each other for a few years now, and we have worked on a few different projects. When I got a call from him about an available property on Depot Street, we decided to meet and look at it. The idea was to have a coffee shop.”

Asheville has a rich history of African American entrepreneurism, going all the way back to Mrs. Tempe Avery, who was born into slavery and became renowned for her skills at delivering babies in the Black and White communities. After the Civil War Senator Nicholas Woodfin gave her an acre of land at 34 Pearson Drive. A generation later, educator Isaac Dickson was one of the founders of the YMI. Later Mr. E.W. Pearson developed the Burton Street neighborhood and founded the Royal Giants baseball team, and Fred Simpson owned and operated the legendary Rabbits Motel. Since then, well over 100 other Black entrepreneurs have helped make Asheville what it is today, from service industries to manufacturing, cuisine (restaurants and bakeries) to literature and the arts.

But while Asheville’s coffee scene has been big for many years, there’s been a noticeable lack of Black and Brown faces in the industry.

To address that gap, says Hackett, “We wanted a space where people that look like us could come and have the services needed to support their businesses. We want to help Black and Brown businesses grow. Oftentimes the Black business owner or entrepreneur does not have a commercial address—or they don’t have access to a fax machine, or a space for a conference or meeting.”

Especially in today’s gig economy, many younger entrepreneurs can meet only virtually, through Zoom, using their home address.

“They have to stitch the pieces together as best they can,” continues Hackett. “What we wanted was a coffee, co-working, and event space—and one of the most exciting things about the space is that we will be able to offer a corporate addresses to business owners.”

So, GRIND is born. Contact GRIND today to get a membership, purchase a corporate mailbox, schedule your event—or just bring your laptop and enjoy the space.

On Saturday, September 26 at 7 p.m., J Hackett’s 40th birthday will be held at GRIND featuring The Hillcrest High Steppers, award-winning food and cuisine, and a socially distant gathering of Asheville’s business community. RSVP on Facebook.

However you do it, GRIND will be here to help you.

GRIND is located at 346 Depot Street, Asheville, NC 28801. Open 7 days a week, 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. For more information, call The Grind at (828) 785-0233, or visit


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