In the middle of a very residential area in Woodfin is a little vegan oasis known as Gallivant Coffee. I went here early on in my move to Asheville, partially because it was so close to my home and partially because the name is just so fun – it sounds like the coffee you get at their shop is going to fuel you for a big adventure. With so many lovely hikes in the area, it only makes sense to have some adventure juice handy.
If you haven’t been, you’re in for a treat – the coffee is selected by the owner himself and roasted in small batches, meaning that you’re unlikely to find a Gallivant blend anywhere else. The same can be said for the housemade syrups, often infused with botanicals that the owner himself foraged in Western NC. They take seriously the impact of their business on the beauty of this region and on the Earth and are committed to being an all-vegan coffee shop.
It’s wild to hear the staff gently explain this situation: rather than having to check and see if they have any vegan creamer or milk, they have to explain that they’ll need to use a non-dairy milk option because that’s all they have.
It ends up being a boon to those of us who like oat milk, which is essentially the “default” milk if you don’t request another type. These drinks have been curated to taste great with oat milk as the star of the show, and Gallivant takes sourcing very seriously, finding oat milk made without particularly harmful pesticides used on the oats.
I think one of the most charming things about this shop is that it is very much a neighborhood shop – it’s a small space, and it’s often staffed by one or two folks at a time with only a few indoor tables.
While these tables fill up quickly, far more people stop in, chat a bit with the staff like they are regulars and neighbors, and leave fueled up with some vegan edible-flour-adorned shortbread or a hand pie as well as their favorite brew.
While I’m usually pretty focused in on my writing work, it’s a bustling environment where folks typically are there to chat a bit. Families come in; all ages of folks come in – it fulfills that idea of a third place, the place where people meet as they prepare for other adventures.
To get a sense of the Gallivant menu, you’re best stopping in and reviewing the latest, though they have many of the common coffee shop offerings, from batch-brewed roasts to smaller espresso drinks like cortados and larger ones like lattes. Cold brew, Americanos, and non-coffee favorites like chai lattes and coconut matcha lattes also grace the menu.
To see the care that goes into the specialty drinks, consider The Forager. This latte begins with wild-foraged pine and crushed flowers brewed into a syrup, a bit of maple, their signature Four & Twenty Blackbirds espresso, steamed oat milk, and a topping of pine sugar and spice. Pine might not be the flavor you typically consider for your morning brew, but you’ll be converted after you try it.
Every season, they find a way to pay homage to the changing weather and the flora of this zone. For instance, the recent specialty drink named That Paul Simon Song included house caramel infused with rosemary and sage, and in the summer, a variety of botanically-bursting seasonal lemonades from Maple Matcha to Blueberry Lavender kept everyone refreshed. Take a test drive through Gallivant’s Instagram page to see some of the tasty drinks on display and understand just how extensive their offerings can be.
For Father’s Day this past year, I ordered a teeny tiny four-inch Chocolate Mocha Cake through Gallivant – their in-house pastry chef makes a variety of excellent treats and, around various holidays, offers a limited menu for pre-order and pickup in the shop.
It seems like a nice way to buy their treats for special occasions and help them keep waste to a minimum by knowing how many they are going to sell that day. The cake was absolutely gorgeous and full of thick, flavorful chocolate and coffee.
In the snack case, you’re apt to find cinnamon rolls, some kind of cake (a baklava cheesecake recently looked delectable!), bagels with housemade vegan cream cheese, delicate tarts, muffins, mini Bundt cakes, and so much more. Many items are also gluten-free, though not all, so the barista can direct you if that’s your pleasure.
By the counter, you’ll find a cold case of bottled kombucha and other treats – I’m particularly amused by an in-house bottled drink called ‘Spro To Go, a tiny bottle containing a double shot of Gallivant Espresso, ready to accompany you on your next hike.
For most of their glassware, they’ll give you a discount if you bring the bottle back for them to reuse, and many of their disposable items are actually compostable – the Earth-centered mindset runs strong here!
Gallivant has been around for a couple of years now, but they very recently opened up their newest venture, Prelude Provisions. I once heard one of the employees explain that if the Gallivant name came from the idea of adventuring, then Prelude was the idea of all the stuff you’d need to go on the adventure, the prelude to it. I enjoy a Gallivant coffee here and there, but I wanted to stop in and see what Prelude was all about, too.
Prelude looks like a neighborhood bodega when you walk in – cases with pre-made foods, but also staples on various shelves, and everywhere, a wide variety. What connects it all is the motto: “We source a bit of the best of everything.”
This isn’t a full-on supermarket, but there are top-quality brands of all kinds of vegan and sustainable home items. There are bulk spices and flours, allowing you to bring your own jars, weigh them, and purchase items without consuming any additional paper or plastic packaging for that particular item.
You’ll find exotic items like a whole case of vegan cheese options – great for making a party more vegan-friendly – and a variety of plant-based meat substitutes to inspire long-time vegans and give folks cooking for vegans for the first time some inspiration.
I am not vegan but I love packaged foods that only have a few ingredients in them, like the brand of brown rice cakes I get for my son here or the various high-quality nut butters they have available.
Anyone can appreciate a spot that offers you one or two alternatives for a particular item rather than a whole wall of items for you to sort through to figure out which one has palm oil or an allergen. There are a variety of staples that most people go through occasionally: coconut milk, pasta, packaged sauce, nice chocolate bars, and sparkling water drinks.
While most folks won’t shop every single week for their whole family here, I see it as a great spot to stop before heading out on a hike or hosting a party, where you can celebrate the excellent flavors and high-quality food with people you love.
It’s also a great fit for vacationers, especially those with dietary restrictions, since you can get the few items you need to have handy and support a local business all at once. If you prefer clean household products like lotion, dish soap, and others, this is a good spot to bring your own jars as well and reload on low or no-packaging options.
You’ll also find great souvenirs, things like Asheville Tea Company teas and nice incense, that are sourced thoughtfully. Prelude was almost a year in the making, giving them time to find the things they really wanted to support and fill the space with treasures.
While this seems to be a very new offering, so I don’t know how reliable it is, I’ve noticed that Prelude has an order online for pickup option if you know you want a few items but don’t have time to shop for them yourself that day.
Reviewing their order online options menu can also give you a better idea of the wide variety of items you can buy there, in case I haven’t highlighted something that you’ve been looking for. They even have weekly specials featured on the site!
Not being vegan shouldn’t be a reason to skip this coffee-and-provisions adventure – all of us could stand to eat 5% or 15% more plants and discover new flavors. I can feel the work that Gallivant has done to be more sustainable without their customers having to make a lot of effort – my to-go coffee mason jar gets returned whenever I go back to the shop to be cleaned and used again – and in so doing, they’ve created a community.
It’s much lonelier to try to treat the planet gently without a community, and if this is an important issue for you, you will find a very uplifting vibe at these two next-door-neighbor establishments.
Gallivant Coffee: 126 Elkwood Ave #102, Woodfin.
Prelude Provisions: 126 Elkwood Ave #101, Woodfin.
Have you been to Gallivant Coffee or Prelude Provisions in Woodfin? Let us know about your experience in the comments below!
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