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Coffee City

Melissa Allison follows the world's biggest coffee-shop chain and other Seattle caffeine purveyors.

June 26, 2009 at 5:27 PM

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Should coffeehouses roast their own beans?

Posted by Melissa Allison

Trabant.jpgPlenty of roasters have cafes to showcase their beans, and plenty of cafes start roasting for various reasons.

Some pros and cons:

Dan Baumfeld, owner of Neptune Coffee, who started roasting coffee for his Greenwood cafe this week: "I feel a little fake when I have this great coffee shop but we use someone else's coffee.... Free time is the one resource I have, not ton of money to do things with."

Tatiana Becker, co-owner of Trabant Coffee in Pioneer Square and the University District (pictured above), bought and sold a roaster a couple years ago: "We played around with it for about three months and found out just how involved roasting was and decided that was going to divide our attention too much from having very well trained baristas and executing well at retail.... If you just have one or two shops, you're buying a pretty low volume of green coffee, so you can't buy a container of coffee at origin.... It's a romantic idea to have a roaster in the cafe, but it can make a cafe really smokey and you can have too many distractions."
Sebastian Simsch (pictured at right), co-owner of Seattle Coffee Works near Pike Place Market, hopes to soon be using his new Diedrich machine to roast all the coffee he brews and sells: "We can make a name for ourselves by making better coffee, improving freshness, saving money on roasting and knowing better where our coffee comes from.... [Asked if roasting dilutes the cafe business:] I think it makes it better. Otherwise, we're just middle people, and there are already enough middle people in the coffee business. I'm less confident that I can serve really good coffee if I don't roast it myself."

Rob Wilson, co-owner of Stella Caffe Coffees, who once said he didn't plan to open a coffeehouse because it would compete with his wholesale customers. He opened Stella Caffe (pictured below) across University Street from the Seattle Art Museum seven months ago: "We have clients within blocks of us who say it's augmented their sales.... I'm very stretched right now, because I didn't count on both [the roasting and the cafe] going so well."

What do you think?


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