Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, Urbana Highlands resident Tracy Hathaway said she was the kid with the bike. After college, getting married and having three daughters, Hathaway became the woman with the good coffee, bringing enough to share with other moms on school outings. Now, Hathaway is the local with the craft coffee shop. And they sell classic bikes there, too. With business partner James Johnson, Hathaway has been making pour-over brews and servicing bikes for a month now from Gravel & Grind, located in downtown Frederick.
“I love coffee and have loved coffee for years,” Hathaway said, adding that Gravel & Grind was launched with the European mindset that quality coffee and riding are inseparable. It was in 2008 that Hathaway got back into riding, often leaving her Urbana home after a day of homeschooling to clear her head. “I have always been an explorer. My favorite kind of bike riding is to have a plan in my mind and get out there and see a road I’ve never been down before and see what’s down there.”
That mindset led her to get a job three years ago at the Bike Doctor in Frederick, where she serendipitously met Johnson. She said opening her own shop was always in the back of her mind. “There is nothing like this in town, this style of riding and the style of bikes — vintage bikes, touring bikes — no one else is focusing on that niche,” she said, adding that they don’t want to take business away from their friends at the Bike Doctor. “What they do, they do really well.”
Once their business plan was done about a year ago, the trick was finding a space in downtown Frederick, Hathaway said. “Frederick has become quite the hot spot,” she said, “It’s a tough market to break into.” The duo found space at 124 S. Carroll Street, adjacent to a row of Frederick’s beloved antique shops and a block from the Delaplaine Visual Arts Education Center.
Where the coffee is concerned, Gravel & Grind is the first craft coffee shop in the area. Their mindset is serving pure, no fuss and hyper local coffee. To their knowledge, Hathaway and Johnson are the only people making pour-over coffees in downtown, a style of brewing that takes about four minutes per cup. “It’s a very clean, light cup of coffee,” she said. “You can taste the beans. Much like tasting wine, you can get the notes out of the beans.”
And speaking of wine, Hathaway said they plan to launch an event called a “cupping,” offering tastings of various coffee roasts. The cupping events will also provide opportunities to try the tastes of different brewing methods — via espresso machine, pour over and aeropress. Their coffee is distinct, Hathaway added, because it is “single origin,” in this case beans directly traded with farmers in Peru. It’s craft roasted by ChocoSombra in Frederick and sold as their signature roast in 12-ounce bags.
“Fresh single origin really hasn’t been touched here in Frederick,” Hathaway said. “We thought we could do both things unique to Fredrick,” she said. Each week the shop will also offer two guest coffee brews from roasters from across the nation. So far, Philadelphia and Annapolis blends were offered and next up is a roast from Richmond, Va.
Gravel & Grind is also the only downtown venue for renting bikes. This month, the shop supports the Beyond the Gate downtown garden tour May 16 and 17, offering bikes so attendees can explore the gardens on wheels. It also offers free Sunday adventure rides at 4:30 p.m., complete with a guide to help participants explore Frederick and the Monocacy River and enjoy a coffee stop with coffee brewed and enjoyed on the trail. Join soon, Hathaway said, as a price may be tacked on soon for the rides. Also this year, the duo plans to introduce coffee soap.
Gravel & Grind is closed Monday and Tuesday. For more information, follow them on Instagram, Facebook or visit www.gravelandgrind.com.