Winston-Salem has a new coffee shop – tucked inside of Campus Gas at 1231 Polo Road. Known Coffee has worked out an agreement to share space with Campus Gas, though both remain separate businesses.
The coffee shop opens at 6:30 a.m. seven days a week, closing after lunch. Campus Gas, which just reopened for the first time since April, sells beer and wine six days a week, and burger and sandwiches four days a week, staying open into the evening most days except Sunday.
Sean Scott, a recent Winston-Salem transplant, is the owner of Known Coffee. In addition to running the shop of Polo Road, Scott also roasts all of his own coffee at a separate site downtown.
Until recently, Scott was a co-owner of Subculture Coffee in South Florida, a business he co-founded in 2014. “I got into coffee about 10 years ago, then started roasting about seven years ago.”
Scott said he moved to North Carolina because he was looking for a slower pace of life and a good place to raise his two children.
“South Florida is its own unique culture. It’s a great place to live, but with my family situation, I wanted a different environment,” he said.
“I’ve been looking in North Carolina for about a year. I was trained by the folks at Counter Culture Coffee (in Durham) 11 years ago, so I knew this was a nice place to live. Originally, I was looking in the Raleigh/Durham area, but a friend said you should look at Winston-Salem. I came to see it and loved it.”
Scott sells a full line of espresso and other hot and cold coffee drinks at Known Coffee. He also sells bagged coffee. Right now, Known Coffee is offering coffees from Rwanda, Guatemala and Ethiopia. It also offers an Espresso Blend, and a decaf called Sierra Negra from Brazil.
The coffees are sold online for mail-order as well as in the shop. A 12-ounce bag sells from $15 to $17, whole or ground; monthly coffee subscriptions are offered at a discount.
In addition to coffee, the shop also makes its own baked goods. This includes daily quiches as well as muffins and cookies. “The menu will be rotating, because we like to offer seasonal items. This week, we had peach galette,” Scott said.
Similarly, the coffee selection will change periodically. “I’ve developed good relationships with coffee farms, and I tend to work in small batches,” Scott said. “So I may have Ethiopian, but it may be from a different farm.”
Scott also said he has run into supply-chain issues during the pandemic that affect his selection, though overall he has had no problem keeping beans in stock.
When the pandemic hit, Campus Gas tried takeout for a few weeks, then closed completely in April. But Campus Gas co-owner Ben Ingold said that especially once Scott had approached him about sharing the space —and the rent — it made sense to reopen.
“We had to take time to reconfigure things,” Ingold said. Campus Gas now has umbrella-covered picnic tables plus its long wooden bar outdoors that provides well-spaced seating for about 60 people.
Masks are required indoors, and markers direct one-way traffic for ordering and paying. Plexiglass also has been installed at the cash register and bar.
Ingold said that in addition to its usual hot dogs, BLTs, pimento-cheese sandwiches and burgers, Campus Gas has added French fries and cheesesteak to the menu. “We’re also going to be doing lobster rolls on Saturdays,” Ingold said.
Both Scott and Ingold said that the sharing of space is a win-win for everyone. “They weren’t open in the morning before,” Scott said. “I’m drawing the morning crowd and they’re drawing the evening crowd. This just makes a lot of sense, especially in the pandemic.”
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