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Originally published April 27, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 27, 2007 at 2:02 AM

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Retail Report

Portland's Stumptown Coffee Roasters coming to Seattle

Stumptown Coffee Roasters, the biggest deal in Portland coffee, is bringing its beans to Seattle. The freshness freaks who run the place...

Seattle Times business reporters

Stumptown Coffee Roasters, the biggest deal in Portland coffee, is bringing its beans to Seattle.

The freshness freaks who run the place refuse to deliver to most coffeehouses and restaurants that are more than 45 minutes from the Portland roastery. To expand their reach, they're building a second roastery south of Madison Street and 12th Avenue near Seattle University.

Due to open this summer, the roastery will be in the basement with a Stumptown cafe above it. Another Stumptown cafe is opening a half-mile west at Pine Street and Boylston Avenue.

David Schomer, a roaster and self-confessed "espresso-head" whose Espresso Vivace is considered by many to have Seattle's most delicious coffee, says he welcomes the competition.

"Lucky Seattle," Schomer said. "They get another good microroaster. These people are spoiled now."

Stumptown has a strong following in Seattle, where founder Duane Sorenson worked for Lighthouse Roasters before opening the first Stumptown cafe in 1999.

Among its adoring fans is Jody Hall, owner of Cupcake Royale and Vérité Coffee. Her three coffeehouses — in Ballard, Madrona and West Seattle — began serving Stumptown coffee last December in preparation for the opening of its Seattle roastery.

"When I met Duane and we talked about single-origin coffees, we were talking at a much more sophisticated level than I'd talked to any other roaster in town," said Hall, who spent 12 years at Starbucks, mostly in its marketing department.

"I was like, 'I'd love to be your first account' " in Seattle, she said. "I love the care they take."

She also appreciates how much they pay coffee farmers.

Last year, Stumptown paid more than $50 a pound for reserve coffee beans — which are like reserve wine — from Panama. This month, it paid $19.20 a pound for a highly regarded Colombian coffee that was auctioned online by Cup of Excellence, a nonprofit program that holds competitive tastings before putting winning coffees out for bid.

"We're very serious about quality," said Matt Lounsbury, director of Stumptown's operations. "We find some of the gems of the planet and offer them to our customers."


Stumptown is known for its coffee tastings, called cuppings in the industry. At one of its five retail locations in Portland, Stumptown cups twice a day, showing customers the taste differences among growing regions, farms and processing methods.

It plans to hold twice-daily cuppings at its 12th Avenue location in Seattle, Lounsbury said.

As if that weren't enough new coffee outlets for a few square blocks of Capitol Hill, the owners of Le Pichet are opening Café Presse next door to Stumptown's 12th Avenue location.

A larger, more casual version of their French restaurant near Pike Place Market, it will offer alcohol, food, newspapers from around the world and coffee — from the Seattle-based roaster Caffé Vita.

"This town's big enough to try different coffees and enjoy them all," said Le Pichet co-owner Jim Drohman.

The Stumptown people aren't fretting about the coffee competition next door, either.

"It'll be a beautiful synergy," Lounsbury said.

— Melissa Allison


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Retail Report appears Fridays. Melissa Allison covers the food and beverage industry. She can be reached at 206-464-3312 or Monica Soto Ouchi covers goods, services and online retail. She can be reached at 206-515-5632 or

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