A pillar of Capitol Hill’s cafe scene is ending its coffee roasting operation on 12th Ave. Sprudge broke the news Tuesday that Portland-based Stumptown Coffee will shut down the roasters at its Capitol Hill shop that opened in 2007. The decision will end the Portland-based company’s days of roasting beans in Seattle.
A person familiar with the move told CHS that ongoing issues with the shop’s old building and plans for Seattle University development in the area factored into the decision. Ten stories of office and dorms are planned to rise above the coffee shop as part of the private university’s expansion plan. We have questions out to Stumptown about the future of the coffee shop and how Seattle U’s plans will impact their operations.
UPDATE: Stumptown vice president Matt Loundsbury told CHS that in addition to having no space for a much needed new roaster, roasting on 12th Ave would become impossible amid Seattle U’s expansion. “What we understand the plans to be will make it really hard to do what we do,” he said.
The roasting operation is expected to wind down in September, Loundsbury said. After that Stumptown plans to expand the cafe and use part of the space for training. All the roasting that was being done in Seattle will move to the company’s Portland facility. Three Seattle employees will be affected by the move and all were offered different positions inside the company, Loundsbury said.
The change on 12th Ave also comes after a major acquisition last year. Stumptown became a wholly owned subsidiary of Peets Coffee and Tea in 2015 after the coffee chain obtained a partial ownership in 2011. Stumptown’s other Capitol Hill venue is on E Pine near Boylston.
Last year CHS spoke with Stumptown’s director of coffee about the significance of Capitol Hill’s concentration of coffee roasting. “For us, part of our mission in coffee is to connect consumers for work that’s done in stores,” Andrew Daday told CHS. “It’s providing that window into this international business.”
The 2014 arrival of the Starbucks Reserve Roastery put a new focus on perhaps the most significant manufacturing industry thriving in the neighborhood. Other neighborhood roasters include Vita and Victrola. Last year we counted around two dozen people directly employed in roasting coffee in the neighborhood, according to roasters that spoke with CHS. In 2015, we wrote about Vivace’s expanded roasting facility beneath Broadway.
Much of the business among the four non-Starbucks roasters relies on shipping coffee to other cafes and businesses. Daday told CHS that the web of wholesale Capitol Hill coffee is thick in the neighborhood and spreads throughout the state and even into Canada.