An E Pine cafe kicked back into motion Friday. West Seattle-born Realfine Coffee is now open next to the E Pine Rudy’s.
Born in 2000 on 15th Ave E, Victrola has survived neighboring competitive corporate mimicry — remember 15th Ave Coffee & Tea? — and downright overwhelming investment on a global scale. This week, the small chain of cafes has expanded into new Seattle territory directly in the maw of massive brands downtown at 3rd and Pine — and it has made some surprising alliances along the way.
Wednesday, Victrola opened its new cafe inside the Macy’s building, well off Capitol Hill.
Victrola’s Andrew Wheeler tells CHS one of the 15th Ave cafe’s earliest customers called that shop “the living room of the neighborhood.” It’s an ideal Victrola hopes to carry downtown. Continue reading
Starbucks cafes across First Hill, Capitol Hill, and the Central District including its specialty Roy Street Cafe and Melrose Reserve Roastery will close early Tuesday afternoon as part of a nationwide day of training.
“For several hours this afternoon, we will close stores and offices to discuss how to make Starbucks a place where all people feel welcome,” the company said in a Tweet earlier in the day. “Thank you for your patience and support as we renew our promise to make Starbucks an inclusive gathering place for all.”
Around 180,000 employees at Starbucks stores and at its Seattle headquarters will receive training that will “focus on understanding prejudice and the history of public accommodations in the United States.” Continue reading
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.”
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
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
“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
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.
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
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.
— jseattle (@jseattle) November 20, 2017
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