Columbia Farmers Market

the farmers behind the market

Next Market Date: 
June 28
10:00 AM
1:00 PM

Fretboard Coffee: Roaster brings his brew and beans to market

You could say Dave Elman is obsessed with coffee. In fact, he doesn’t mind saying so himself. The owner and roaster of Fretboard Coffee started roasting beans in 2008, though he was a connoisseur of coffees and coffeehouses long before that.

In 2012, Dave came closer to his dream of owning his own shop when he and his wife, Julie, moved to Columbia. She took a position as a professor at the University of Missouri while he roasted coffee. The following year, he began selling freshly roasted and brewed coffee at Columbia Farmers Market, where he has built a Fretboard fan base.

With a substantial following, Dave opened a shop and roastery in the alley next to Wabash Station on North Tenth Street, behind Artlandish Gallery and Ernie’s Café, in November 2013. He has since trained “a small, but dedicated staff.” Among Fretboard’s local regulars are the folks who live and work in the North Village Arts District. Son Everett and daughter Willow are regular visitors; for now they come more for the company and atmosphere than for the coffee.

As the guitar-themed décor and shop name suggests, Dave also loves music. As music composers, he and Julie perform at the shop from time to time. The shop features live music on First Friday, and several Open Mic nights every month.

Still, true to the business’ roots, Dave reserves Saturday mornings for Columbia Farmers Market, where he continues to brew hot French press coffee. He brings bags of whole-bean coffee —roasted within days of the market — and usually has jugs of Fretboard’s signature low-acid cold brew.

In summer 2015, the Fretboard crew added honey lavender lemonade that uses local honey and organic lemons from Clovers Natural Market to their farmers’ market offerings. 

Dave looks forward to Saturdays because he likes to engage with customers and the farmers. “We enjoy getting to know customers who may not make it downtown to our shop, but are regulars every week at the farmers market.” Market time also allows for more “intimate conversations about our coffee, our roasting style, and sourcing,” he said.

Fretboard Coffee uses beans that are “ethically sourced” from farms and co-ops where workers are treated well, paid a fair and living wage, and where farms are open to importer inspectors to ensure ethical practices. “Additionally, all of our coffees are produced without harmful chemicals or pesticides” Dave said. “Even our decaffeinated coffee is decaffeinated using the Swiss Water Process, which is 100 percent chemical free.”

In addition to the North Village Arts District and Columbia Farmers Market, Fretboard Coffee is served or sold by the bag at Harold’s Doughnuts, Clovers Natural markets, Hy-Vee health market locations on West Broadway and Nifong Boulevard, Cafe Berlin, Barred Owl Butcher & Table, Meriwether Cafe, Papa’s Cat Cafe, Nourish Cafe and Market, and Callaway Bank.

To learn more about Fretboard, visit The website has a fully functional online store and a subscription service:

“We enjoy getting to know customers who may not make it downtown to our shop but are regulars every week at the farmer’s market."
-Dave Elman


Dave shares his at-home recipe for a coffee martini.
get the recipe
Columbia Farmers Market
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Photography by Drew Piester.