Coffee capital: Shark Mountain Coffee to change C'Ville java landscape

Many small businesses in competitive industries will throw down to keep even their most basic recipes a secret from their competitors. Not Shark Mountain Coffee Company. In fact, part of what sets this new gourmet coffee shop and roastery apart from the crowd is its downright excitement to give away their secrets.

"We believe Charlottesville is on the brink of becoming a major hub of American coffee culture, rivaling those of D.C., Philadelphia, Durham/Chapel Hill, and even New York," says Jonny Nuckols, co-founder and co-owner of Shark Mountain.  "One thing holding it back is the hyper-competitive, proprietary nature of already established shops."

And Nuckols would know. He's a former roastery manager at Shenandoah Joe, former manager of Para Coffee and former staffer at Milli Joe Coffee and Gelato. To bring Shark Mountain Coffee to life, he teamed up with former Para co-worker Kerem Atalay, a current UVA fourth year. 

"While at Para, I realized that I wanted to try to start something communal, with shared ownership that allowed for individual creative license to be appreciated and encouraged," says Nuckols.

Located at 621 Nash Drive, between the Law School and Darden, and within Darden's entrepreneurial incubator, the iLab, Shark Mountain may not be the most easily accessible coffee shop, but Nuckols is quick to respond to this point: free parking! The cafe is also easily accessed from Barracks Road, Ivy Road, and from the 250 bypass.

Furthermore, Nuckols says, it will be worth your while to drive the extra miles. Shark Mountain, which will open on April 11 in conjunction with the opening of the iLab itself and Tom Tom's 10K pitch night, will offer sophisticated and classic café drinks done in artisanal fashion, rotating homemade sweet and savory foodstuffs like bacon cornbread, and their soy milk, nut milks, chai, and syrups will all be made in-house. They will even roast their own cocoa beans for a homemade chocolate sauce!

In the coming months, Nuckols and Atalay promise to use their generous space–featuring both indoor seating and an outside patio– for music events, movie screenings, poetry readings, latte art competitions, art shows, and more. 

Nuckols and Atalay envision Shark Mountain as a quality coffee experience for their customers, but also a launching pad for events and organizations that will foster the growth of a vibrant local coffee community.

"We want both coffee professionals and enthusiastic customers to be equal parts of it," says Atalay. "We believe that the best way to create a community around something is to make access to the relevant resources as unrestricted and open as possible."

In concrete terms, Nuckols lays out a few ideas: "We will work towards forming collectives with other shops, feature other roasters' coffees, create a customer co-op with a democratic voice, and eventually a barista time-share in which baristas from other shops and other cities can literally run the shop for a day."

But can they do it all– homemade chocolate syrup and social innovation? Nuckols says yes. 

"We want to make coffee a craft akin to wine and beer, and Charlottesville a destination coffee city."

Connect with Shark Mountain Coffee Company on Facebook at:


Latte art competitions. Sounds Sweet.

This is a dream come true! I can't wait to get by to have this experience.As a former manager/ employee of the other coffee shop in Barracks Road,this is what Cville is looking for.It is a small town that wants to be catered to,and I hope you will do that well! Best of luck and see you soon!

Where is it?

But will the general public want to stroll the gauntlet between Darden & Law? That's rarefied air, indeed.

Without a Darden subsidy, this place wouldn't last 6 months.

This sounds awesome!! -- plus I love the name.

Charlottesville has a supreme lack of shark themed restaurants. -- this is what the public needs!

Gotta love the delusions of grandeur affecting residents of Podunk Town on the Rivanna.....
If they're at all like other Charlottesville "break-out" artisanal businesses they'll be charging $12/12 oz. of "cavalier mocha special roast". Sort of like Pat Kluge's $20+ bottles of red wine which gag you worse than 2 buck chuck. Not to undersell that Albemarle Red, though; I got some of it and it isn't half bad used to make Coq aux vin...
In the meantime I'll keep buying 3 pound bags of quality Ruandan Bean Coffee at Costco for $16...

Well Angel Eyes, another part of what we're trying to do with Shark Mountain is to keep our prices relatively low.

We love that coffee is starting to gain a reputation as a product with culinary value comparable to wine - but we do not love that the snobbery and price inflation that have turned wine (for many) into an upper-class affectation are beginning to be seen in the coffee world (take a look at these guys and then try to complain about Shark Mountain -

It is virtually impossible to produce a cup of coffee that is ethically and gustatorily satisfying yet less expensive than a cup of Nescafe. The difference between the price of a cup of Shark Mountain coffee and a cup of instant coffee is not the result of an attempt on our part to sell an item that is attractive because it is expensive (and therefore exclusive) - but one that is attractive because it is interesting, delicious, handmade, and ethically sourced (or, at least, sourced as ethically as the inherently, and often egregiously, exploitative coffee growing/importing industry will allow - finding a way to introduce coffee farmers to the far-greater profits generated in the part of the coffee-making process we are involved in is a future goal of ours).

You can have a 12 oz cup of Shark Mountain coffee that satisfies all of the above criteria for $2.18 - I think that is pretty fair.

I honestly can't imagine what sort of pathetic creature has nothing better to do with his life than to travel from one "destination coffee city" to another, but I'm going to start supporting bad coffee shops just to try to keep them away. I'll have a cup of the jump the shark mountain blend please...

Congratulations Jonny & Kerem. Sounds like it'll be an interesting venue, to say the least !
Best of luck with it!
--J's Sis, L