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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.”

In 2015 as the Specialty Coffee Association of America was gathering at the Washington State Convention Center, CHS wrote about the Hill’s light manufacturing roots and burgeoning bean industry when the neighborhood was home to the densest cluster of coffee roasters in the city, including Victrola, Vivace, and Stumptown. In the time since, Stumptown shut down its roasting operations on 12th Ave. Now, Victrola is downsizing.

Other operations have found new homes on the Hill. Vivace moved its roasting operation to a space beneath The Garage in anticipation of increased demand for the property where its facility was housed in the midst of Pike/Pine. And the massive Starbucks Roastery roasts and ships enough beans every day at its Melrose facility to keep the Reserve brand cafes stocked worldwide.

Challenges in manufacturing logistics along Pike aren’t limited to the coffee industry. Sun Liquor moved its distillery off the street earlier this year in part because of the challenges of creating and shipping booze in the middle of a dense neighborhood.

Victrola, acquired by Ollis and his Whidbey Coffee company in 2008, now is expanding, too — off the Hill. The company has added a Diedrich CR-70 roaster to its program and expanded overall roasting space from 1,500 to 12,000 square feet with the Lynnwood move. Its single origin and other specialty coffees will still be roasted in Seattle “but overall capacity growth will allow everything else to expand,” the company’s release states. Industry veteran Torsten Gohre joined as director of wholesale to oversee the expansion.

“Our investment in both Tor and the new facility reflects our commitment to our customers and small batch quality excellence,” Ollis said.

There will be no change in operations for Victrola Pike’s cafe space.


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