CHS Pics | Pulling shots with Capitol Hill’s Babe Ruth of craft coffee

Founder — and one of the forefathers of Seattle’s craft coffee movement — David Schomer moved back behind the bar Wednesday to help celebrate Espresso Vivace’s thirty years on Capitol Hill.

The coffee expert — and metrologist and flautist — handled the lunchtime rush pulling free shots of Vivace’s Malabar roast and Ethiopian Sidamo at Vivace’s Brix location on Broadway. Thursday, he’ll join the crew at Vivace’s South Lake Union outpost.

Schomer’s technical approach to the art of coffee has earned him legendary status. If you have enjoyed a Schomer pull, it’s a little like getting to play catch with Babe Ruth.

“If you don’t thrill to make people happy with your art, find another job,” Schomer tells CHS, “because this is absolutely all about making people happy.”

Espresso Vivace: 30 years of artisanal coffee on Capitol Hill

This week, Capitol Hill’s Espresso Vivace celebrates thirty years in business with a reinvention of its mission — and free shots. From its genesis as a Broadway coffee cart to its current incarnation comprising two storefronts, a sidewalk stand, and a 5,000-square-foot roasting plant, Vivace has established a reputation for technical excellence in coffee preparation. They were on the vanguard of the artisan espresso revolution, educating both industry and customers and defining expectations for high-end coffee from flavor to equipment to the foam art in your latte. At this three-decade milestone, Vivace now shifts course to emphasize their roasting capabilities.

“We’d really like to reach out to people to let them know how phenomenal this roast is,” says David Schomer, who founded Vivace in 1988 with his then-wife/still-partner Geneva Sullivan, “The precision with which you can brew coffee leads to your ability to detect where the caramelized sugars in the original flavors are at their maximum development for each bean.”

Schomer has a way of launching into deep-dive digressions about the exacting science of espresso with little provocation. He’s a student of coffee who also wrote the book on it, literally; his 1995 guide Espresso Coffee: Tools, Techniques and Theory is now in its third printing and has been translated into Korean, Japanese, and Russian. He also makes tutorial videos and teaches classes for professional and home baristas. Continue reading

Intrigue Chocolate and Coffeehouse warms up at 15th and Madison

Chocolate and coffee? Intriguing.

The new Intrigue Chocolate and Coffeehouse has been warming up with some test runs serving friends and family at 15th and Madison. Neighbors should be able to stop through for a quiet opening later this week as things get fully up to speed at the new cafe.

Aaron Barthel and Karl Mueller started Intrigue in Pioneer Square as a forum for chocolate as an art, not a science. “Aaron likes to use chocolate as a medium to express what he knows about flavor,” Mueller told CHS when we talked to him in October about their plans for 15th and Madison. Continue reading

No Barista Boyz — yet — but a bikini drive-thru Ladybug Espresso has, indeed, opened on Capitol Hill

With Seattle’s cold snap, it might seem like a tough week to get your start as a bikini barista on Broadway but the street’s 80-square-foot drive-thru shack is actually pretty cozy, CHS is told.

“With the heaters, it’s actually hot in there,” a representative for Ladybug Espresso tells CHS. The Puget Sound region chain of 30-something bikini espresso stands has quietly expanded to Capitol Hill, opening on Presidents Day at Broadway and Harrison.

The drive-thru stand offers a full selection of coffee drinks and, yes, a smiling barista in fancy underwear or a skimpy bathing suit to send you on your way. The pay is good, the rep said, telling CHS Ladybug baristas make more than minimum wage. The tips are better. Continue reading

Starbucks making Capitol Hill ‘move’ of its Broadway/Republican cafe

Broadway and Denny’s coming soon Starbucks

The Seattle-based coffee giant is pretty much ruining the joke. There won’t be a Starbucks on every corner on Broadway.

Employees at the Broadway and Republican location are telling customers that, come 2018, the shop will be “moving” to the new 101 Broadway building, across from Capitol Hill Station at Broadway and Denny.

CHS reported this summer on plans for a new Starbucks in the new mixed-use building near the busy transit station. Now it appears Starbucks corporate has deemed the old Broadway and Republican location unnecessary.

The closure will mark the second Starbucks to shutter on Capitol Hill to end 2017. Earlier this year, the 15th Ave E Starbucks — at one time an indie-styled experiment by the company — shuttered and will make way for a new Full Tilt ice cream shop.

Starbucks, meanwhile, isn’t the only big coffee chain closing cafes on the Hill. CHS reported on the lawsuit and the tax problems behind the closure of Tully’s after 20 years at 19th and Aloha.

As for what is next at Broadway and Republican, CHS doesn’t allow itself to indulge in straight up rumors too often but the exit of Starbucks on this end of Broadway might connect to persistent gossip we hear of a big brand pizza chain looking to expand its Capitol Hill presence. Feel free to speculate further in comments.

The Broadway and Republican Starbucks is slated for its final day of business on January 8th.

 

Victrola expanding coffee roasting operations off Hill but Pike’s small-batch beans will stay

Inside Pike Victrola’s roasting room (Image: Victrola Roasters)

Capitol Hill remains fertile ground for coffee bean roasting but the area’s tight quarters will mean one player is downsizing its on-Hill operations. Victrola has announced it is moving its largest roaster to Lynnwood to focus its growing wholesale production in a new facility:

One of Seattle’s original specialty coffee roasters is getting a strong shot of focused energy and experience with the addition of Torsten Gohre as Director of Wholesale, as well as the establishment of a new production facility. Tor joined Victrola in July 2017, bringing his talents and expertise from 10 years as Western Region Sales Director for a Fortune 500 corporation, where he managed a portfolio of business across 13 states, contributing to 20% year-over-year growth for 10 consecutive years. Tor’s role at Victrola is to define and implement an optimal structure for wholesale operations and oversee all client relationships, including day-to-day service, education and new accounts. He will lead all business development and account management strategy, with a focus on expanding into new market segments such as lodging, airport, college and university, business and industry, and healthcare channels.

Victrola owner Dan Ollis tells CHS “space has become a real concern” at Victrola’s Pike roastery and cafe. “I’m sure you have seen the loading/unloading craziness,” he writes. “The Bigger Roaster will move, and the original roaster will stay in its place at 310 East Pike St.” Continue reading

Behind the Tully’s Capitol Hill closure: the lawsuit, the taxes, the what’s next rumors

No, the property hasn’t (yet) been sold to a developer but, yes, the financial issues surrounding the closure of the Tully’s coffee after 20 years at 19th and Aloha go much deeper than a lost lease.

CHS broke the news on the coming closure for the popular neighborhood hangout in mid-November. We documented more than $300,000 owed in taxes to the state of Washington and decisions including a $102,000 judgment for unpaid rent on the company’s Western Ave offices. It turns out, the company owes much more. By the end of the month, the Tully’s across the street from St. Joe’s and a few blocks from the Holy Names Academy was closed for good. Along the way, Global Baristas, the company that took over the struggling chain, never responded to our requests for more information on the closure and chair Michael Avenatti blocked us on Twitter. Continue reading

Realfine Coffee expanding to Capitol Hill in Stumptown’s old E Pine space

While neighbors wait to see what might come next to one longtime favorite Capitol Hill coffee spot, another is set to go back into motion.

West Seattle’s Realfine Coffee announced Tuesday it will be expanding onto Capitol Hill, taking over the E Pine space left empty when Stumptown left the street in August.

“We are beyond excited to announce a second location in Capitol Hill! Coming soon to 616 E Pine St in early 2018,” the Realfine announcement reads. “So grateful for this opportunity. Cap Hill, here we come!”

Owner Julie Mierzwiak opened Realfine in 2015 on Fauntleroy Way SW where her neighbor was also a Rudy’s. Lately, she’s been entangled in local concerns about lost parking from a new development project in the West Seattle neighborhood. Hope her expectations are low for E Pine.

Realfine will bring Herkimer beans to the cafe space adjacent E Pine’s Rudy’s and Capitol Hill Loans that Stumptown called home until it was shuttered late this summer. Stumptown, meanwhile, continues to operate on 12th Ave.

 

For the first time in 20 years, a back-to-school Monday without Tully’s at 19th and Aloha

For the first time in 20 years, the kids from Capitol Hill’s Holy Names Academy don’t have anywhere to hang out the first Monday morning of back to school after the Thanksgiving break.

Messages from longtime customers and staff were one of the few things left on the walls Sunday night as the process to pack up and move out the Tully’s Coffee at 19th and Aloha began. Continue reading

More tough times for Tully’s: 19th/Aloha cafe to close

As can be the usual around Capitol Hill, smaller local changes around big coffee can be the harbinger of things to come.

People familiar with the situation say the longtime Tully’s cafe at 19th and Aloha is set to close later this month. According to court documents, the struggling Seattle-based coffee chain has larger problems.

CHS has found a series of judgments against Global Baristas, the holding company that took over the struggling chain in 2013. They include more than $300,000 owed in taxes to the state of Washington and decisions including a $102,000 judgment for unpaid rent on the company’s Western Ave offices earlier this month. Continue reading