By Anna Tran, River Ridge High School intern
Bright, cheery, and homey? Not at Burial Grounds Coffee, where anyone can come in for the various interesting beverages like the mysterious Zombie Defender, or a Rigor Mortis if you have a sweet tooth. But don’t be so quick to judge a book by its cover and be intimidated by the punk-grunge décor. Get past the walls of framed sketches of demons and gothic painting, the unorthodox choices of music playing softly in the background such as death metal or Kpop, and the vintage crystal chandelier and leather couches and you’ll see customers of all sorts lounging around enjoying a latte or sipping their espresso while taking advantage of the free wifi or just relaxing.
Over on Washington Street, this coffee house gem, in the heart of downtown Olympia, attracts all types with the welcoming and talented staff who personally formulate new combinations, making them into drinks of depth, flavor, and creativity. Each beverage, whether a sort of coffee or tea, brings a new taste that is nothing like the average cup of joe that’s found in the usual chain cafes.
The owner and mastermind behind this characterized café, Mara Peterson along with her loyal staff express themselves and their creativity through their work, taking care to put a lot of thought into satisfying customers. “We experiment a lot with flavors and have fun with it… and though we have more different types of flavors, it’s easy to make a good masked coffee, but if you can’t serve plain shots, it’s not good enough,” says long time baristas Jacqui and Ashley. Always serving dutifully with a smile on their face, even despite of restless bustling activity during busy hours, the baristas themselves are mellow and incredibly friendly and will happily make suggestions if you’re struggling to decide which of the many variations to try.
The service has such pure genuineness that is so rare in the business world today. “For every part of ungenuine customer service, a little part of my soul dies,” says Jacqui referencing the tip jars, competing tips between the choice of who would win in a fight, Robo-Chicken or Terminator. “It’s a way to connect with the customers, now I know a little bit about them and we don’t have to go through the whole forced common courtesy.”
Mara herself, who’s also balancing running a business and being a full time student, puts her full heart into Burial Grounds. After moving from Arizona to Washington, in support of her husband being deployed, Mara wanted to bring a little bit of home with her. She opened her own coffee house inspired by one back in Tuscan, Arizona and a comic book called Wet Moon, in which Burial Grounds is named after. “We strive to make people feel welcomed and be able to just chill… to respect and connect with each other,” says the business owner.
Making friends with their customers, it’s more casual than professional, perfectly appeals to the laidback atmosphere of downtown Olympia. Regular customer Christiaan Verschuyl describes Burial Grounds as liberal, “It’s a place where everyone feels safe and comfortable”.
Being a poor high school student with no job, feeding my habit for chai tea and mochas with pocket change, and my addiction of scoring discounts, I was very pleased to see that The Burial Grounds offers discount on certain types of drinks or food every day of the week and an extra 10% student and military discounts.
Besides a wickedly themed coffee shop and menu, there are other aspects that make people constantly coming back other than the addiction for a quality kick of aromatic coffee. Comic books in a shelf are placed next to the two computers and an Xbox, all available to for our leisure.
Burial Grounds really encourages the importance of self-expression. Sketchbooks filled with artistic, silly, and always brilliant doodles strategically placed at the front counter tempt customers to grab a pen and sketch away and be a part of the scribble gallery that make up a hodge-podge of personalities bounded by a simple black spiral. A small scale RPG is hosted once a week and a steampunk group meet once a month. Being connected to the community draws in even more wanderers looking for good product and service that makes it truly unique.
The overall atmosphere is unlike any coffee shop, even in a downtown Olympia Burial Grounds is a place for anyone if they’re willing to check it out, get comfortable and take a risk for once, try a Deadly Night Shade.
Burial Grounds Coffee
406 Washington St SE in downtown Olympia