CHS Community Post | Vivace’s David Schomer on coffee art — and affordability

Vivace founder David Schomer sent this essay to CHS. It’s a meditation on the art of coffee — with a twist.

Macchiato for You?
By David Schomer

When you order I am listening, intently. Is this a time for friendly banter or a little peace and quiet for you?…after all maybe you have not had coffee yet. Is there a special request like not too hot or no foam? And no one wants to be chatted up before coffee so I am very attuned to your mood. For macchiato I grab a small porcelain cup and fill 1/3 with hot water.

Next I am turning on the grinder and getting a look at the consistency of the grind, is it cakey? Do I have a little cling going on? The grinder goes for about 11 seconds to produce 20g of fresh powder, and during that time I grab the .33 L pitcher and put about 100ml of fresh milk into it.

I grab the porta-filter from the machine and give the coffee basket a quick wipe with a cotton rag on the way to the grinder, dose the coffee into it, and distribute the lumps and channels out of the fluff before packing firmly. The texture of the ground coffee is a sticky powder with subtle lumps and channels in it. To get a good shot it is quickly massaged and measured. Then I pack it with 30 pounds pressure and a nice flourish of the tamper. Pack, tap, pack…

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This week in CHS history | First Hill parking lot murder, new Block Party owner, ‘stern lecture’ foils robbery

27_agular_howell-1024x602-400x235Here are the top stories from this week in the CHS archives:

Police: Victim and suspect hit after wild gunfire in Summit/Howell cell phone robbery

Seattle Police are investigating a shooting on Capitol Hill that sent a cell phone robbery victim to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries just after 2:30 AM near Summit and Howell in a violent incident that apparently also included one of the robbery suspects getting shot in the foot.

Police say the shooting began after the robbery as the victim and a person with him began following the suspects demanding the phone back. Police say the suspect pulled out a gun and began shooting, hitting the victim in the leg and apparently striking another suspect in the foot. Police say the suspect also struck a nearby apartment building with the gunfire.

Here’s the preliminary report from SPD:

Detectives are investigating after an armed robber shot the victim and his partner in crime during a Capitol Hill robbery early Saturday morning.

911 dispatchers began receiving calls reporting a shooting near Summit Ave and Howell St around 2:30 AM. Officers arrived and found a man who had been shot in the lower leg following a street robbery. A witness and the victim began recounting the events to officers as medics were treating the victim’s non-life threatening gunshot wound.

The victim told officers he was walking on Capitol Hill when he was approached by a group of men who robbed him of his cell-phone. A witness and the victim began to follow after the robbery suspects demanding the cell-phone back. At Summit Ave and Howell St one of the suspects produced a handgun and began shooting in an apparent effort to stop the victim and witnesses pursuit.

Later, while officers were interviewing the victim at Harborview Medical Center, one of the suspects hobbled in having been shot in the foot during the incident. Police later learned that a building was also struck by gunfire around the time of the incident after a 911 caller reported a bullet had gone through a window of their second-floor Bellevue Ave apartment.

Robbery detectives are responding to the hospital and will be interviewing the suspect and working to identify the other suspects.

Police were searching for three suspects reported by witnesses as three black males in their 20s, two wearing black hoodies and the third in a red hoodie. The suspect in the red hoodie was reported as the shooter in the incident. The suspects were last seen heading eastbound on Howell from the scene. One witness reported seeing a person limping away in the same direction.

The shooting just before 2:30 AM Saturday follows an armed robbery reported early Wednesday morning near Cal Anderson Park. In that incident, police took five suspects into custody — two of the suspects were 13-year-olds, the others aged 14, 16, and 17.

CHS Pics | This week in Capitol Hill pictures

(paradeimage via Flickr)

(paradeimage via Flickr)

The CHS Flickr Pool contains more than 26,000 photographs -— most of Capitol Hill images, many glorious, some technically amazing. The pool is a mix of contributions from Capitol Hill — and nearby — shutterbugs. Interested in being part of it? If we like your photo and it helps us tell the story, we may feature it on CHS so please include your name and/or a link to your website so we can properly credit you. Interested in working as a paid CHS contributor for scheduled assignments? Drop us a line –- our roster is full for general assignments but pitch us on an idea. Continue reading

CHS Pics | Seattle Semi-Pro Wrestling doc screens at SIFF 2015, more Hill highlights to come

IMG_5949Some of the best Capitol Hill moments of SIFF 2015 are still to come. Thursday, CHS found the veterans of Seattle Semi-Pro Wrestling out to celebrate the one-night screening of Bodyslam: Revenge of the Banana:

For six years, the stars of Seattle Semi-Pro Wrestling thrilled crowds as they parodied professional wrestling with their boozy blend of burlesque and athleticism. But when a newcomer felt slighted by the tight-knit cabaret performers, he tried to take them down, forcing them into an all-too-real fight for their future.

The film isn’t slated to screen again during SIFF but you can learn more about the production at Meanwhile, here are some of the upcoming on-Hill highlights slated for SIFF screenings at the Egyptian — and the Harvard Exit’s last run as a cinema:

HageresebMeanwhile, a package of films capturing life in Yesler Terrace and the issues related to the neighborhood’s redevelopment will be featured at SIFF this weekend in screenings at the Harvard Exit:

Faces of Yesler Terrace
Yesler Terrace is highly controversial in the changing landscape of the city of Seattle. These films capture the people and stories from the past and present of Yesler Hill’s public housing development.


More transit prep on Broadway: If you spot ‘smoke,’ don’t worry — Capitol Hill Station airflow test


A cutaway view from the north of Capitol Hill Station's main entrance at Broadway and John (Image: Sound Transit)

A cutaway view from the north of Capitol Hill Station’s main entrance at Broadway and John (Image: Sound Transit)

If you see smoke Friday night coming from the under construction Capitol Hill Station, you can probably relax. Sound Transit says contractors will be conducting tests of the station’s “airflow”

Friday, May 22, from 4:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. Sound Transit’s contractors at both the Capitol Hill and University of Washington Stations will perform airflow tests in the University Link tunnels. Nearby residents and passersby may notice artificial smoke (a dense vapor produced by a fog machine) exiting vent shafts at the station sites. Additional airflow tests will also be performed on May 30-31 and June 6-7 during daytime hours.

If this were an actual emergency, never fear — Capitol Hill’s Fire Station 25 is home to Seattle’s only special tunnel firefighting machine.

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

The work is part of preparations through the rest of 2015 to open Capitol Hill Station and the U-Link light rail extension connecting downtown to Montlake by way of Broadway.

You can get a sneak peek here of the UW station and a look here at what it’s like inside the 3.1 mile tunnels. Riders will descend around 90 feet via escalators and elevators to reach the Capitol Hill Station platform, according to Sound Transit diagrams. In addition to the main entrance near Broadway and John, the station will also be accessed by an entrance near Denny on the west side of Broadway and a third entrance on the south end of the site. By 2030, about 14,000 Capitol Hill riders are expected to board the light rail trains each day.

Above ground, the process to develop the sites around the Broadway light rail site with a mix of affordable and market-rate apartments, a community plaza, and commercial space — including a home being planned for a new grocery store – is underway and planners are adjusting bus routes in anticipation of the new transit service coming online. Meanwhile, the surface level streetcar has begun testing on Broadway with hopes of opening the service to riders later this summer.

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Two decades of ‘American beer and American comfort food’ at the Hopvine

Bob Brenlin and Michael Congdon in front of Hopvine's evergrowing photo wall (Images: CHS)

Bob Brenlin, left, and Michael Congdon in front of Hopvine’s evergrowing photo wall (Images: CHS)

WP_20150312_004Bob Brenlin loves to talk about beer. He has spent nearly three decades in the business of selling suds as a co-owner of three pubs in Seattle, including 15th Ave East’s Hopvine, celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2015.

When he opened the Hopvine in September 1995, he had already been running the Latona Pub in Green Lake since 1987 (the third pub is the Fiddler’s Inn in Wedgwood), so he had time to get the business model down. When he opened, he said he hoped to accomplish two goals.

“We wanted to be part of a local community, a nice neighborhood, and introduce them to interesting craft beer,” he said.

Brenlin has no sense of how many different beers he’s been able to introduce to the neighborhood over the years, but with 12 ever-rotating taps multiplied by 20 years, the number is well into the thousands. In particular, all of his pubs feature what he called “creative, hop-forward” beers, particularly IPAs which he called the perennial best sellers from all of the craft breweries.

Brenlin always tried to focus on breweries from Washington and Oregon, he said, and it has been fun watching the number of small breweries grow. When the Hopvine opened, there were around 12 craft breweries in the state, now there’s more than 200 with more added regularly, he said. And when one of his bartenders pours one of those beers, Brenlin said they have one goal.

“Try and get the best pint as possible. Try to pour a beer as close to what the brewer intended as possible,” he said. Continue reading

Even the corner stores are getting into the Capitol Hill food+drink boom

It wouldn’t be the first time a scrappy Capitol Hill corner market has set its sights beyond snacks and soft drinks.

Benson’s Grocery, a corner store staple at Bellevue and E Pine Pike, is planning to shrink its market sometime this summer to make way for a new Japanese restaurant inside the shop. According to plans filed with the city, the $500,000 project will include adding a kitchen, dining area, and a restroom.

The move undoubtedly signifies that the Capitol Hill food and drink boom being watched ever so closely by pundits on all sides of the $15 wage debate is as strong as ever — or is about to pop. You choose!

Benson’s owner Hun Lee confirmed the plans with CHS, but declined to reveal specific details on the project. CHS did learn that sushi will be part of the restaurant offerings, but how the paired down market will function remains to be seen. Lee said work would start this summer.

Plans seen by CHS show a sushi bar-like setup added to the back of the current space with restaurant seating to take over the north portion of the store that neighbors the Seattle Eagle gay bar and the E Pike Victrola..

Over the years, Benson’s has been busy finding ways to generate more revenue out of the neighborhood bodega. At one point, a large advertising banner for Oregon’s George Fox University hung above the store. Benson’s again made sign news earlier this year when street artists put up a Starbucks apology banner on the side of the store.

Creative Blueprint artist work studios coming to Pike/Pine

11060845_725808247539881_4842954540878777262_n 2147012275_20110629_230345By way of Toronto, Capitol Hill is about to get a new space for artists and entrepreneurs to create.

Creative Blueprint, a gallery and artist work space concept with Canadian roots, is making plans to open its doors to the Capitol Hill creative class in a 5,000 square-foot subterranean space on Boylston Ave just around the corner from Pine.

“It’s an expansion of the vision and the project,” Creative Blueprint’s Ashley Proctor tells CHS.

The affordable and flexible studio spaces will be operated in conjunction with Capitol Hill coworking concern Office Nomads which in 2012 doubled its size by taking over both the ground and second level of the old Heath Printers building above Creative Blueprint’s new basement space.

CHS is a longtime Office Nomads member.

Proctor says she started Creative Blueprint in Toronto nearly a decade ago to solve a problem familiar to many Capitol Hill artists finding it increasingly difficult to find affordable work space. Proctor says that in Toronto she started the original Creative Blueprint in an affordable area of the city only to see that area develop and rents push higher. Creative Blueprint moved, then, gain, development came. It’s a cycle Proctor said happened quickly enough in Toronto that she was able to learn how to deal with it. Eventually, she said, she was able to purchase the building where Creative Blueprint now lives. Her Toronto operation in The Foundery building also includes a coworking business that she also operates.

In Seattle, Proctor is working with Office Nomads founders Jacob Sayles and Susan Dorsch.

“It seems so easy to run one company instead of two,” she said.

Proctor tells CHS that the success of Office Nomads helped convince the building’s owners that a shared art space was a viable tenant for their investment. Proctor said that having the support of the new Capitol Hill Arts District was also key as Cultural Space Liaison Matthew Richter wrote a letter to the building owners on Creative Blueprint’s behalf.

As she works this summer to open the new space, Proctor is also meeting with artists and coworkers to find out more about the needs of the Capitol Hill community.

Proctor said that it doesn’t necessarily require artists owning a building to preserve and protect art space in a neighborhood.

“Making sure that property owners and landlords understand the value can also work,” she said.

Still, Proctor said that, eventually, purchasing a building to secure homes for Creative Blueprint and Office Nomads could be part of the plans.

Creative Blueprint will be located at 1617 Boylston Ave’s lower level. Proctor said pricing and membership plan structures will be similar to how she has set up her Foundry coworking space. You can learn more at

With better reporting, new tools, Seattle hate crime totals continue rise — UPDATE

Seattle Police Department officials say an increase in reports of bias crimes on Capitol Hill and across Seattle is actually progress and that more tools are coming to help the LGBTQ community report crimes and hate incidents.

In a report to the City Council public safety committee Wednesday afternoon, Lieutenant Michael Kebba said the rise in reports reflects an increased effort to encourage victims to tell police about bias incidents. “I don’t really see a lot of attack issues,” Kebba said.

Overall, there were 126 reported bias incidents in Seattle in 2014 up from 110 in 2013. In the East Precinct covering Capitol Hill, reports jumped to 34 “malicious harassments,” “crimes with bias elements,” and “bias incidents.”

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