Ironclad Coffee and Roastery: 100 Year-old Fire Station in Richmond

Ironclad Coffee Roasters shoeshine

Ironclad Coffee is a cafe in a renovated 19th-century firehouse in Richmond’s Shockoe Bottom neighborhood, Virginia. I’ve always liked Richmond, and as we contemplate ending our military service, it’s also a potential spot for us to settle down. This leg of the road trip, Charlotte to Baltimore, gives us the chance to check out some potential places to call our forever home. On our way, we decided to make a pit stop at this popular café in Richmond’s historic and trendy district. Ironclad Coffee isn’t your typical coffee shop; it’s a renovated firehouse– a blend of history and contemporary style. It captures the essence of Richmond, a city that seamlessly combines its classic roots with an Instagram friendly design. So, it seemed like the perfect place to sit down, enjoy a cup of coffee where the firehouses horse-drawn fire wagons once sat.

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Rescuing History

Ironclad Coffee and Roastery has two locations: the one I visited in Shockoe Bottom and its roastery cafe in Scott’s Addition. The newer location retains elements of its historical past. You can still see the original beadboard ceiling and artifacts from the building’s previous life, such as the old fire company’s wooden ladder, proudly displayed on the exposed brick walls. There’s even a circular cutout in the ceiling, which reminds us of where the firefighters once slid down their pole.

Additionally, the owner managed to rescue and install the original shoeshine booth that once operated in the lobby of Richmond’s iconic Jefferson Hotel. Steven, the boys, and I once enjoyed an extravagant Mother’s Day Brunch there once.

This isn’t just any shoeshine stand,” said Ryan O’Rourke , the owner. “It’s likely that legends such as Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Charles Lindbergh, Henry Ford, Ray Charles, and any one of the 13 U.S. Presidents sat in these very chairs to have their shoes shined while staying at the Jefferson. Like many things we do as a company, it’s a nod to the past and some of the useful and positive things that have largely gone by the wayside.

Daily Coffee News

Ironclad Coffee and Roastery

Hook & Ladder No. 2

I have limited knowledge about the various coffee makers, but the brass hammer-plated coffee machine adorning the front counter is undeniably beautiful and leaves a lasting impression as you approach. I’m unsure about its age compared to the other artifacts, but it undoubtedly complements its surroundings seamlessly.

The building was initially constructed as the old Hook & Ladder No. 2 fire station in 1884 and operated until its de-commissioning in 1952. The interior was renovated originally in 2009 by someone else. The owners of the Ironclad purchased it in 2017 and began renovating it into the two-story cafe we see today.

One of the first things they did was install an ADA-compliant bathroom, even though one was onsite already. While I didn’t have the opportunity to visit personally, O’Rourke also told the Daily Coffee News the cafe has Richmond’s first flushing toilet in the walled-in courtyard adjacent to the cafe.

A Smoked Coffee

I ordered a slice of spinach and cheese quiche from the lunch and brunch menu. thank goodness, we chose to share it, given its substantial size and weight. The cafe orders baked goods from various bakeries around town. They also sell their own roasted coffee beans wholesale and cater special events too.

Alongside the quiche, I also indulged in a seasonal specialty coffee known as the “Vermont Sugarmaker.” This unique concoction featured Ironclad’s Bare-Knuckle Espresso, blended with whole milk, authentic maple and vanilla syrup, freshly grated nutmeg, and a tantalizing plank of torched candied bacon. The coffee is placed inside a smoke box stoked with hard wood. The infusion of the smoky flavo created a memorable experience. It was my first experience with smoked coffee, and I must say, it was an absolutely delicious surprise.

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IRONCLAD-COFFEE-ROASTERY-519x692 Ironclad Coffee and Roastery: 100 Year-old Fire Station in Richmond


1805 East Grace Street, Richmond, 23223

Monday – Friday, 7:00 AM ’til 5:00 PM
Saturday & Sunday, 8:00 AM ’til 5:00 PM

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