When Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters began roasting beans, Krista Bentow was a young girl living in Montesano. She didn’t drink coffee, but both of her grandmothers drank it all day long. Coffee intrigued her from an early age and Krista wanted to learn all about its craft and art. One of her first jobs was as a barista at a drive-through coffee stand in Lacey.
This experience was helpful for Krista. When the coffee stop went out of business, a connection with Dancing Goats led to a barista job at the downtown espresso bar. This was on top of going to SPSCC full time and managing Mariposa, a clothing store at the mall. Perhaps in part because she began living on her own when she was only eighteen, Krista developed a strong work ethic and professional drive. She proved to be a responsible and valued employee. Within a year, she was promoted to manager. Krista held that position for four years.
Next she moved to the larger, flagship coffee house on Capitol Way, managing that location for the next three years. Starting last October, Bentow became the Western Retail Operations Manager, overseeing all three downtown locations. These include the Tasting Room, adjacent to the Farmers Market, Dancing Goats Espresso Bar, across the street from the market, and the roomy coffee house in the heart of downtown.
Krista was the first person trained to work at all three locations and now oversees twenty-three employees. Each location has its own personality, yet all are dedicated to consistent customer service, green business practices and excellent coffee. They work together though the company’s written mission document. Safety and cleanliness are vital as well as composting and recycling. Also ecologically minded, the tasting room utilizes over 50 solar panels.
The coffee business demands innovation. Krista noted that the business is always looking for creative ideas – whether it’s in the way they operate or in what’s being served. For example, Batdorf & Bronson makes tasty syrups like cardamom and one for cayenne mochas.
This fall you can warm up and energize with the original Gold Milk Cortado. A base of coconut milk is mixed with turmeric, fresh ginger and a little bit of honey. The Cortado includes a shot of espresso and additional milk of your choice (dairy or non-dairy). Turmeric is regarded for its anti-inflammatory properties. Mixed with ginger, it’s a wonderfully warming beverage good any time of day. I often make a version at home in the evening, but without the caffeine. A dash of cinnamon makes a pleasant addition.
Employees are encouraged to contribute ideas, too. They are also supported to increase their skills by attending trade shows, learning more about roasting or new and unique equipment. One employee is training to compete in the U.S. Barista Championship. Another barista, Graeme Smith, designed the sweatshirt for sale in the store and on-line.
Coffee bars used to sell only coffee, but not any more. Batdorf’s glass case includes a variety of food featuring local and regional businesses. Favorites from the San Francisco Street Bakery have been showcased for decades. You can find cupcakes from Abby’s Cookies and Cupcakes and offerings from 8 Arms Bakery. Careful attention goes into providing a balance of sweet and savory items, including some without gluten.
“The Tasting Room is the perfect place to take time to smell and taste the nuances in various coffees,” shares Krista. Beans vary with each farmer, the terroir and its roasting method. The Tasting Room highlights the uniqueness of their brews. You can sample various brewed coffees, but they don’t make espresso drinks. You find barista-made coffee and tea beverages at the other two locations. Right inside the doors of Bayview Thriftway is another place to get your fix. If you are in Lacey, try the Dancing Goats Coffee Bar on 6th Ave for more Batdorf goodness.
Batdorf & Bronson is active in the community serving coffee at the annual Friends of Olympia Farmers Market Taste of the Market dinner and Temple Beth Hatfiloh’s Blintzapalooza, to a name a few. Krista is a member of the Olympia Downtown Association and likes being involved.
Twenty-three years ago, Batdorf & Bronson opened a roasting facility in Atlanta, Georgia in a time of limited shipping options. Orders are roasted upon receipt and it was essential to deliver the coffee fresh. The Atlanta location handles east coast distribution and while the coffee culture in the southeast U.S. may have started after the surge in the Pacific Northwest, they’re catching up. Now there are three Dancing Goats coffee bars in Atlanta.
Excellent coffee is one of the delicious pleasures in life. It tastes even sweeter when enjoyed with a friend. Saying, “Let’s have a cup of coffee,” really means let’s get together face-to-face and talk. Batdorf & Bronson has been serving our community for decades. Krista expects the business to be around for a long time to come.
“It feels good to work for a deep rooted, passionate company,” Krista says.
Eat Well – Be Well