Calling all coffee lovers: Lambda Coffee is NoVA’s new kid on the block

This Alexandria-based coffee roasting company is perking up java fans with its sustainably sourced beans.

lambda coffee bags and beans
Photo by Sarah Evans

Farmers market season kicks off this month and the region’s foodies will soon be filling their reusable grocery bags with locally sourced produce, meats and dairy. And, this spring, you can also fill your cup with a new brand of locally made coffee.

New roaster on the block, Lambda Coffee, launched last year, and is making its spring debut at the Burke Farmers Market this April. The Alexandria-based, women- and LGBTQ-owned company has been selling its ethically sourced beans (from farms in Ethiopia, Columbia and Papua New Guinea) in biodegradable bags since July 2019. Co-owners and life partners Shawna Vacca and Eve Freeman started roasting their own beans in their kitchen over two years earlier, hoping to create a great cup of decaf that Freeman could enjoy.

Once their hobby got going, it led to giving bags of fresh coffee to friends and family as Christmas gifts. Encouraged by the positive response to the home-roasted beans, the couple attended multiple roasting and cupping workshops, and then invested in a micro-roaster and ultimately rented their own commercial space in Herndon.

The duo debuted their coffee online for $18 a bag last summer, but truly hit their stride when they were invited to take over a stand at Burke Farmers Market right before the holiday season. “We literally had one woman buy eight bags from us,” says Vacca. “It even took her awhile to mark off her [holiday gift] list.”

Vacca and Freeman say they’re new stall at the Burke Farmers Market—and the visibility that comes with it—will help them reach even more community members this spring and summer.

“We try very hard to be a business we’re proud of,” says Vacca. Lambda Coffee will continue to donate a portion of its proceeds to Casa Ruby, a DC-based nonprofit that supports housing for transgender and LGBTQ individuals.

Going into farmers market season, Vacca and Freeman say they are eager to provide more varieties of beans to the community (They’re currently exploring bean options from a variety of countries.), and will continue to create the “magical experience” of getting a great roast of local coffee. Achieving that just-right roast is also magical for them. When one local fan told them that a cup of decaf from Lambda Coffee was one of the best they ever had, “It was fantastic,” says Vacca. // Burke Farmers Market: 5671 Roberts Parkway, Burke; opens for the season April 11; $18 per bag

This post originally appeared in our April 2020 issue. For more stories on local businesses, subscribe to our weekly newsletters. 

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