What Happens When You Combine Cookies and Community? You Strike Gold!

What Happens When You Combine Cookies and Community? You Strike Gold!
Zuma Coffee is more than Marshall, North Carolina’s unofficial meeting place and one of the most charming and delicious small businesses in the area. Zuma Coffee draws people from all over Western North Carolina in search of gold—Zuma Gold.
“When we opened, we had our Zuma Gold cookie, we had chocolate chip, oatmeal raisins. Well, we found that people were traveling a long distance for one Zuma Gold cookie—a $1 cookie,” said Joel Friedman, owner of Zuma Coffee. “People would drive from Black Mountain, from Hendersonville, just all over the community. And the word sorta spread around. It’s a love affair between cookie and community, basically.”
You’re more likely to stumble upon actual gold than another cookie of this caliber. These treats are made with farm-fresh eggs from a farmer just down the road, combined with unbleached flour and real butter. Add all-natural, farm-fresh chocolate and stud them with Georgia pecans and walnuts. Suddenly, you’ve uncovered the soft, chewy cookie known as the “Zuma Gold!

The Zuma Gold in all its chocolatey glory.

In additional to this kingly treat, Zuma’s baked goods, coffee, and welcoming atmosphere make it an integral part of the Marshall community.
Since 2002, Zuma has been serving fair-trade coffee to Marshall’s 850-person population. At their start, Marshall was almost a forgotten town. Friedman’s decision to open a 400-square-foot coffee shop in a town clinging to life was risky. However, many people credit Zuma Coffee as a major reason Marshall is now back on the map.
“When I moved here, it was basically offices for the county that were here,” said Friedman. “Those moved to the bypass, so it really opened up this huge space for people to move in and kinda create a neighborhood as we went along. So very organically, it’s transformed into an arts and music community. Music and art has just always been a part of this area. And now just with the few people who are coming here, it’s gaining that spirit again.”

Now, the mountain town’s population and popularity is exploding, and so is Zuma’s. The coffee shop moved to a larger space on Main Street, more befitting the town’s central community hub and one of the region’s favorite coffee shops. The additional space also allowed them to build Zuma Cookie Company and Zuma Too: Cookies and Cones. Zuma Too is Friedman’s most recent partnership with Asheville-based Ultimate Ice Cream, offering all-natural, as-locally-sourced-as-possible sweet treats to a growing Southeastern customer base. Zuma cookies are baked in house and sold in store, as well as packaged for sale in local Ingles Markets grocery stores and nearby Hot Springs Resort and Spa.
“You know, I love that [Marshall is] growing very slowly and very organically and it happens through the people,” said Friedman. “There’s a real impetus on keeping it community-based. So, I see it still continuing to grow in this pattern and becoming a real living community as opposed to a tourist community.”
“When I say ‘community,’ that’s the word that just always comes up here. We’re a town that all like each other.”

More Golden Opportunities to Visit Marshall, NC

Besides visiting Zuma Coffee, it is worth a scenic drive along the French Broad River to see all that the picturesque mountain town of Marshall has to offer.
Zuma is a short walk from The Depot, a community concert venue where local musicians play for free on Friday Nights. Nearby, are unique businesses such as Marshall Junk Shop, Madison County Brewing, and Madison Natural Foods. Just over the bridge is Marshall High Studios, full of working artists, which hosts a popular annual art sale every fall. The town’s focus on community, along with the mountain views—and of course, a freshly baked cookie—make Marshall, NC worth a visit.
See the beauty of Marshall for yourself! Read more about Marshall, see more photos, or search for homes in the area, from our Beverly-Hanks Marshall community page.