At Rise Up, locally roasted coffees help establish deep-rooted connections

Once a gas station in the 1920s, a storefront nestled in the heart of Easton at 618 Dover Road continues to fuel residents today, but now as a filling station of the coffee variety. 

Since 2005, Rise Up coffee roasters, an independent small-batch coffee roaster and retailer, has been doing brisk business at their flagship store in Easton.

With four locations and plans to add a café on the Salisbury University campus this summer, it is hard to imagine the thriving Eastern Shore original in its infancy, when it was started with just one man’s passion for coffee and a single food truck parked in historic St. Michaels.

As Rise Up continues to grow, one thing remains constant for co-owner and Maryland native Tim Cureton — his commitment to locally roasted, organic-fair-trade coffee. 

Cureton’s travels and experiences in the Peace Corps ignited his interest in coffee and the storytelling features each bean brings. Rise Up made its start by giving patrons a taste of the globe with just a sip, from a smooth Kenyan brew to a bright Guatemalan roast. They set out to provide a global connection to the coffee farmer’s countries of origin, its captivating people and their cultures. 

Validating the axiom “Find your passion, and anything is possible,” one step into Cureton’s coffee-dream-turned-reality café in Easton, it’s clear Rise Up is a phenomenon. This hidden gem is a casual coffee mecca where a size small is small and the menu presents itself without intimidation; simply real people making real food that is really good.

The real commodity at Rise Up Coffee Roasters is the people, or, as Cureton says, “our friends.”

Far from the 10-pound weekly roast load customary in the business’s nascency to what is now two to three tons of coffee production a week, the thriving roaster has a simple coffee-business philosophy: grown by friends, roasted by friends and enjoyed by friends.

“We have wonderful relationships with our coffee growers, and we’re are very proud of that,” said Cureton. “If there is any hero in coffee, it’s the coffee growers themselves, and we are the lucky ones who get to roast this coffee.”

Inside Rise Up’s remodeled cozy café, mellifluous tunes play softly from a radio, and the aroma of coffee beans buzzes the senses. The whole place has an electric feel. Whatever it is about coffee that makes people gather, they are gathering at Rise Up and its quintessential homey appeal. The idea of home has a lot to do with what drives the business’s community partnerships — or, rather, friendships. 

For Rise Up staff and the community it serves, the Chesapeake Bay is home, and with that comes a deep sense of appreciation for the area. That’s why Rise Up partnered with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for its fall seasonal “Chesapeake Gold,” a specialty batch that tastes as good as the work it helps.

For every bag of Chesapeake Gold purchased, Rise Up donates a dollar to the foundation. The final numbers haven’t been tallied yet, but the partnership has been incredibly successful and will contribute to a significant donation. 

Another collaboration for Rise Up involves Cambridge brewery RAR, with the release of House Roast and Imperial Cream Ale, a bean-hop union that debuted in May. 

Cureton spilled the beans — or better yet, the leaves — on new things brewing with a signature tea line called Water and Leaf, which could happen this year. The tea will be an all-organic product, just like every bean roasted at Rise Up. 

“I have to say, 12 years in, and I have never been more excited about what is happening with Rise Up,” said Cureton. “I am truly living in a coffee dream.”

Locations in St. Michaels, Easton and Salisbury


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