CIGARS AND COFFEE: New downtown tobacco shop ‘Smoke & Ash’ offers unique combination

Published 3:00 am Friday, May 5, 2017

Messenger photo/Jonah Enfinger
Smoke & Ash owner Angela Farmer and certified tobacconist student Thomas Hutchins try out two of their shop’s handmade cigars.

People may be used to pairing a fine wine with a meal, but pairing coffee with a  fine cigar might be a more novel concept to some.

Bu that’s just one of the things the folks over at the newly opened Smoke and Ash store are working on.

Angela Farmer owns the shop and enlisted the help of Thomas Hutchins, who is currently in school to become a certified tobacconist. Yes, those exist.

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“I had been referring to myself as “master tobacconist” but then I found out that was a real thing and I couldn’t really call myself that,” Hutchins said. Once he gets his certified tobacconist, Hutchins said that will be his next degree.

The start of the new business venture was something that “has just fallen into our lap” Hutchins said. “There were some people we knew that had very awesome, specific talents.”

Hutchins said that people may not realize that coffee and cigars pair so well together.

“Scotch and cigars are awesome together,” Hutchins said. “Coffee has more depth than people think.”

“They’re very complimentary,” Farmer added. “The aromas alone go together very well.”

Farmer said the business is even working to potentially offer a service to pair cigars and coffee.

The coffee that the shop has for sale now is roasted by one of the few, if not only, female coffee roasters in the Southeast Farmer said. Sarah Gill roasts the coffee in Auburn.

For now, the shop is only selling the coffee grounds but is expecting to open a coffee café in the shop some time this summer.

The cigars the shop sells, which Hutchins said is the biggest hit so far, are also handmade.

Farmer said cigars have been a part of her life for a long time with her grandfather smoking a cigar.

“My grandfather always smoked a pipe so in my family life I was always around the aroma of fine tobacco,” Farmer said.

Her father-in-law Jim Bud Alroth was another avid cigar smoker and Famrer said his wife Mary’s legacy made the business possible.

A photo from her wedding even shows Farmer and her husband posing with cigars in their mouth with Alroth.

Unfortunately, Alroth passed away shortly before the business’s grand opening.

Farmer grew up in the south side of Chicago and moved to Auburn to pursue her Ph.D. After getting that degree, she came to Troy University as a professor in the English Department.

Farmer said the sense of community in the city really made her want to start her business here.

“Everybody is just so nice,” Farmer said. Every time something happens I’m amazed at how nice people are.”

The shop is still going through work to get inventory in and continue design changes– the shop’s look was just rearranged completely Wednesday– but Farmer said business has already been better than expected.

“At the end of the day we feel like we haven’t done anything, but then we run the register and we’re running above expectations,” Farmer said. “At the end of each day, we’re amazed at how much business we’ve gotten and how many people we’ve met. We already have regulars.”

Farmer said the shop plans to offer consistency of products for smokers that are often committed to a specific kind of cigar. The store is also bringing in higher-end hookahs and offers a variety of “fine smoking essentials.”

The shop is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays. The store is closed on Mondays. Smoke and Ash is located at 105 S. 3 Notch Street.