Coffee, tea and Huntley make up the aura at Katora

Potomac Local | by MIKE SALMON


From the front, the Katora Coffee Shop looks like an inviting place to come in, have a cup of joe or a pastry, and converse with whoever is around. Once inside, though, there’s more to it.

The walls are adorned with local art, and a small stairway leads to a back room that doubles as a sound studio for local musicians, including Michael Huntley, who made national news on December 19, 2023, as the winner of Season 24 on NBC’s “The Voice.”

Before his name became associated with the show, Huntley was a regular at Katora, performing for friends and locals on Caroline Street in Old Town, Fredericksburg.
He also doubled as a sound engineer for the performances backstage.

“He would build the track from the ground up,” said Ethan, who is a part owner of the shop with Christian and April Zammas. They all saw Huntley on the show last year. “He nailed it,” said Ethan.

Huntley was just one of many local sounds that packed the Katora in recent years, and the Katora staff is happy with all the local influences. “This is where the community is,” added Will King. Chief is another local who works at the shop. “It’s a really fun spot,” he added.

Their live events are one thing that sets them apart. On Wednesday nights, they have an open mike night, Thursday night is comedy night, and Friday is slam poetry night. Saturday night is band night, and they’ve had local favorites like “The Pentagram Sting Band,” “Lacking,” and “Meadows,” to name a few. “A lot of student bands and traveling bands,” said Ethan.

Their description is inclusive.

“Katora began when April met Christian. With deep roots in community – their dream has always been to offer a safe space supportive of recovery, mental health, LGBTQ+, the arts, and music,” their description refers to the Zammas couple that started the shop a few years ago. In 2019, they opened a second Katora on the Mary Washington University campus.

The menu has as many tea drinks as latte-type drinks, and the sizes aren’t tall, grande, or venti as they are at Starbucks. The “Don’t Chai This At Home” is a tea of a different sort, and the “Macashroom Mocha” has cordyceps, a mushroom, and a maca root plant. “People are intrigued by that drink,” said Chief, a barista. “They’ll experiment sometimes,” he added.

“The building used to be a crematorium,” added Chief.  But that’s a whole other story for the Halloween season.

Katora Coffee is at 615 Caroline Street in Fredericksburg.

Mike Salmon is a freelance reporter for Potomac Local News.


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