When a true, coffee-loving customer gifted Victrola Coffee Roasters with a 5-foot coffee plant a couple years ago, they weren’t quite sure what would come of it.
“We never really thought about growing our own coffee,” says Victrola Roastery administrator Sarah Jane Hoppe. “We’ve never heard about anyone growing coffee in Seattle or at sea level in general. But we replanted it, found a home for it in our cupping room and watched it grow.”
Victrola head roaster Perry Hook has gone to mingle with farmers at coffee plantations in Colombia and Guatemala and is familiar with the harvesting process, Hoppe said, so they decided to make the coffee plant a fun experiment.
“All of the sudden, it started producing flowers, and then cherries, and it was actually looking like the coffee plants you see in pictures,” she says.
Last year, the Finca Victrola produced some cherries, but a few were lost along the way when they turned into something that looked like shriveled up raisins, according to Hoppe. While they’re not sure the origin of the Finca, Hoppe says it’s believed to be an Arabica tree, producer of more flavorful coffees.
This year, the team picked the cherries off their now 10-foot tree, dried them using their patented micro-batch method developed in the Victrola Roastery, and roasted them again. But while this harvest was more bountiful than the last, customers shouldn’t expect to see the Capitol Hill-grown beans on the menu any time soon.
“It wasn’t very good,” Hoppe says.
While Victrola doesn’t have any plans to release the coffee or publish any reports on urban coffee milling and processing, the experience has taught the roasters, baristas and customers a lot about creating honest, pure coffee.
“Putting so much time into processing wonderful coffee with such different flavors is so amazing,” Hoppe says. “At Victrola, we really like to be able to brew coffee that highlights all the work that goes into creating that perfect bean.”
[mappress mapid="7"]Victrola has also been saving the cherries’ skins to try to make a tea from it, Hoppe says. They’d also like to figure out a way to measure its caffeine.
The community can view the Finca at Victrola’s 310 E Pike location in the cupping room. The best time to visit is Wednesdays at 11 AM during their free, public coffee cuppings, which include a coffee tasting and discussion on coffee production, processing and roasting.