Capitol Hill food+drink | CommuniTea Kombucha is moving to 21st and Union with cafe to follow

The area around 23rd and Union has grown into a true showcase of Seattle’s eclectic small business scene — indie film, beer, radio, bikes, and pot can all be found within a couple blocks. Now you can add kombucha to that list.

CHS has learned that fermented tea slingers CommuniTea Kombucha are moving out of their small Judkins Park production facility next month and relocating to a larger space inside the Central Cinema building at 21st and Union that will eventually include a small cafe and kombucha shop.

Owner Christopher Joyner tells CHS he’s plans to start making his tea in the new Central District space by next month. As production ramps up, Joyner plans to open a cafe in the coming months to serve a small selection of snacks, beer, and of course, kombucha on tap.

After brewing his tea for a year in a small Ballard kitchen, Joyner moved to 26th and Judkins St. in 2009 where he’s been ever since. The building is slated to be torn down for a new development.

By putting production and consumption under one roof, CommuniTea joins a growing trend in the urban beverage scene that embraces giving consumers a peek behind the production curtain (see the exposed roasting process at the new Starbucks Roastery or the beer vats in the tasting room at Outer Planet Craft Brewing for some recent area examples). “People will see how we do it,” Joyner said.

An opportunity to educate more people on the probiotic-rich drink could be especially helpful for CommuniTea. To the untrained eye, a Google Image search of kombucha can produce some downright horrific looking results. But kombucha enthusiasts insist the fizzy, fermented tea is associated with a wide ranging list of health benefits.

Beyond getting a bigger space, Joyner is particularly excited about having access to a mezzanine level where he can brew tea and allow gravity to handle the work of emptying the tanks. The larger facility also means CommuniTea will expand its distribution around town, though Joyner stressed he could only grow as much as retailers understand the product.

“We’ve found that we don’t want to push the kombucha in places that don’t get it,” he said.

Places that do get it around Capitol Hill include Oddfellows Cafe, Tullulah’s, Scratch Deli, and Chuck’s Hop Shop.

The new CommuniTea will be in the space formerly occupied by Reel Grrls. The non-profit that trains girls to produce their own film and media moved out last year in order to put more resources into programming, according to director Nancy Chang. ReelGrrls is now based out of the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center in Delridge.

News of CommuniTea’s Central District arrival comes just over one year after Chuck’s Hop Shop opened across the street. CommuniTea will be just around the corner from Katy’s Corner, adding to the the block’s cafe and hangout offerings.

In the meantime, CommuniTea drinkers shouldn’t notice any shorter supply of their tea around town. Joyner has brewed and stored an extra 2,500 liters of the stuff in anticipation of the big move.

Capitol Hill food+drink notes by jseattle

  • We’ve been talking of the imminent return of Bill’s off Broadway to its planned home in the new construction at Harvard and Pine in time for the start of the 2015 NFL season. But we were also starting to get nervous. We hadn’t heard back from management to confirm that the much-loved pizza joint and de facto sports bar was, indeed, returning to Capitol Hill in addition to keeping its new Greenwood location. Finally, we can make the call — Bill’s will be back. The management says the game plan is to be back in business before kick-off of the first Seahawks regular season game.
  • Meanwhile, new E Olive Way sports bar Kessler’s will open for real any minute now.
  • Across the street. Good Citizen’s soft opening was super super soft. We’ve added a few updates about what to expect as the coffee lounge by day, craft cocktail bar by night sibling to Liberty opens for good.

    FOOD's "Soy glazed beef tongue/ pickled shiitake and choy sum/ tofu/ lotus root"

    FOOD’s “Soy glazed beef tongue/ pickled shiitake and choy sum/ tofu/ lotus root”

  • It’s the final weekend for the FOOD the Restaurant pop-up at E Union’s Cortona Cafe. We noted the end of the long-running weekend pop-up last week. Here’s an update from chef Zac Reynolds about what’s next:
    Cortona was intended to be temporary location for FOOD and yes, of course I was hoping would lead to the next step locally. It’s been a great success with lots of happy diners & lots of lessons for me both in the kitchen & with business. Recently I’ve been considering going to Durham, NC for my next step — to be near family / have grandparents in need. But my heart is still in Seattle … I love the access to interesting ingredients … it’s a great place for me. So ……….. I’m going to be around for a while, have some weddings & other events & hope to find some new venues for shorter-term pop-ups, maybe even find that investor.Reynolds adds that he’d be up for working with someone on a new project — but this time he wants to stay in the kitchen. “I learned I’m not in love with the business side of things but have some intriguing venue ideas!,” he writes.
  • The annual A Taste of Capitol Hill event benefitting the Community Lunch meals program returns on March 29th again at All Pilgrims. Tickets are $55 and go to support a great cause.
  • Crowdfunding financing can help food and drink entrepreneurs with some pretty surgical strikes. Sheri Lavigne’s 12th Ave project Culture Club is working to raise $15,000… for bathrooms:
    Here’s how the finances break down: The majority of Culture Club Cheese Bar’s funding came from the support of the Small Business Administration through a loan from Community Capital Development. The funds from Kickstarter helped built out the front of the house, and this loan from CSC will enable us to build out the bathroom. Help us get the last little bit of financing we need to open our doors this summer!
    The Seattle-based Community Sourced Capital system is powered by community members willing to back a no-interest loan to a neighborhood business — $50 at a time. We last wrote about it here as part of Makini Howell’s project to create Sugar Plum on 15th Ave E.
  • Chef Nick Coffey’s work at Cafe Barjot gets some love.
  • Cupcake Royale is muscling in on 3/14’s Pi Day:
    General Assembly and Cupcake Royale have teamed up to bring you FREE babycakes on the ultimate geekie/foodie holiday, Pi Day. Join General Assembly at Cupcake Royale’s Ballard and Capitol Hill cafes where they will be offering custom logo’d Red Velvet babycakes for free to anyone that signs-up and shows up at the selected locations. 
  • Li’l Woody’s Seattle Burger Month features weekly creations by big-name PNW chefs.
  • Capitol Hill — just in time — has a lot of Chinese food to enjoy. More is coming.
  • The folks behind the counter making the Capitol Hill food and drink economy hum typically have more than a few irons in the fire. Seattle Eater talks with Anna Wallace currently working at Single Shot about her Seattle Seltzer Company.
  • “Seattle friends, go to Katy’s for me…
  • Stateside… too loud

  • UPDATE: Couldn’t resist this Facebook note added by new 14th Ave global eatery Nue:
    "This week's Special, Mang Da Na (Giant Thai Water Beetle). Their flavor is heavily floral with a hint of salt and spice and are eaten as a snack throughout many parts of SE Asia. The extracted essence is also used as a flavoring for several traditional dishes but due to its scarcity, an artificial version is often used. As these are the real Mccoy, we are serving them traditionally plain with a side of pickled Thai chili and a sticky rice ball accompaniment. Supply is limited so get 'em while you can!"

    “This week’s Special, Mang Da Na (Giant Thai Water Beetle). Their flavor is heavily floral with a hint of salt and spice and are eaten as a snack throughout many parts of SE Asia. The extracted essence is also used as a flavoring for several traditional dishes but due to its scarcity, an artificial version is often used. As these are the real Mccoy, we are serving them traditionally plain with a side of pickled Thai chili and a sticky rice ball accompaniment. Supply is limited so get ’em while you can!”

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6 thoughts on “Capitol Hill food+drink | CommuniTea Kombucha is moving to 21st and Union with cafe to follow

  1. FWIW: I noticed this evening the latest restaurant at the corner of 10th and Miller (Abay Ethiopian?) has been emptied out and a for lease sign is in the window. That corner spot is where restaurants go to die . . .

  2. Sad to see communitea is moving farther away from my house, but I’m sure the new location will bring tons of business. Any word on where Judkins St. Café is going? I was so sad to see that they left the spot next to communitea. Looks like another big apartment building has pushed them out, but I’d like to know more about what happened. Hopefully they relocate somewhere nearby in the neighborhood. Best goat cheese veg scramble in Seattle!

  3. WER, at the farewell party last week for Judkins Street Cafe I spoke to a few of the employees, and as of then they did not have a new location lined up, though they are looking. We asked if they checked about the empty Catfish Corner spot, and they said that they did enquire about it but the price was really high on the rent.

    This post from July goes a little bit into detail about the sale of the property: http://us6.campaign-archive1.com/?u=8005894de74e02a8390038392&id=abdff9381a

    • Thanks, cherryst. I wish I had known that they were closing. I went to brunch there often, but never signed up for the newsletter. I found out the hard way when I walked over there for breakfast after they had already closed. Would’ve loved to help fight the new development if there was an effort to do so. Property prices are so high in our neighborhood these days. I really hope Michael and his team find a new location for my favorite breakfast spot.

  4. Pingback: Capitol Hill food+drink | Still Liquor folks bringing pizza to Minor and Pine | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle