By Nikki McCoy
Whether connoisseur or novice, step inside the roastery and prepare to understand coffee a little deeper, and to be impressed by the way Batdorf & Bronson balances compassion with business.
Below, we highlight 10 things you might not know about Batdorf & Bronson’s Tasting Room.
1. New Coffee Everyday: Beans in the tasting room are never more than five days old. The baristsas in the Tasting Room brew up multiple single origin coffees and blends for customers to sample and talk coffee with them. Or, if you are in a hurry, you can grab a coffee to go. Batdorf & Bronson doesn’t add anything to their coffee; it’s in its natural state. Because the bean can be washed, semi-washed or natural, and depending on the roasting method, and type of plant, coffee produces a lot of flavors – allowing guests to try something new every day.
2. Coffee with a Conscience: Roof top solar panels are just one component of Batdorf & Bronson’s commitment to sustainability.
To quote the company’s informational wall hanging, “The same sunlight that grows the coffee beans we roast gives us a percentage of the electricity to run our business. The panels on the roof of the Tasting Room harvest energy from the sun which is stored in large batteries that power our computers.”
Even the coffee samples come in mini biodegradable cups that turn to dirt in 45 days. Relationship Coffee is something the company prides itself on – becoming close to growers, and supporting sustainability.
“Their sustainability practices are second to none,” says Linda Neil, supervisor and employee of 13 years. “They take care of their community; they really realize that without the coffee farmer, there’s no need for us to be here.”
3. Wedding Favors (and gifts!): Think small bags of coffee with custom names and dates (Ethan and Bethany Blend, for example). With a cute descriptive like “sweet & spicy,” you’ve got wedding favors that’ll keep guests talking. Plus, find gifts for the coffee-lovers in your life in the gift shop that features mugs, shirts and more.
4. Advice for Camping: And just about everything else – from French press to pour-overs – their knowledgeable team can answer questions and give advice about temperature, method, machine use and more. The staff is required to spend many hours in the on-site cupping lab, learning the ins and outs of coffee.
“The Tasting Room is like a resource room…” says Linda. “Like cooking, coffee is not science, it’s an experiment, and here at Batdorf & Bronson we’ve resolved so many of those issues. It’s not a hard thing, people just don’t always know the importance of the proper method…And when you get it right and get that great cup of coffee, you strive to do it every day.”
By the way, if Linda is on shift, make sure you ask her about using a raw egg to make cowboy coffee while camping.
5. Tips for a Cause: Tasting Room baristas have elected not to receive tips. Instead, money goes to Grounds for Health, a non-profit dedicated to bringing women’s health care to rural, coffee-growing communities.
6. A Gardner’s Friend: With bags of bean hulls available for amending garden soil (at no charge) and eco-friendly burlap sacks to act as a weed barrier (composts right into the soil), the Tasting Room is a great resource for keeping the circle of sustainability going. And while the burlap sacks cost $1 each, all proceeds go the same charity as their tips.
7. History and Tradition: The walls are filled with educational pictures and captions. The counters have booklets and pamphlets. Did you know your coffee passes through 24 hands before reaching your cup? And did you know, Dancing Goats, the blend Batdorf & Bronson is most known for, (and also the name of their espresso bars and licensed store in Lacey) is based on a fabled origin of coffee?
According to legend, a goatherd who lived in the highlands of what we know as Ethiopia, noticed his goats prancing and dancing after eating the small, red berries from a nearby bush. The goat herder followed suit and was soon dancing with his goats.
8. Get Schooled: Learn how many times to sip coffee before judging the flavor. Learn the optimum temperature for brewing. Learn the difference between beans, and brush up on your geography while enjoying coffee from the major growing areas of Africa, Indonesia and Latin America. Plus, Tasting Room employees are a wealth of knowledge.
9. No Lattes, No Mochas: The Tasting Room is more of a destination than your typical grab-and-go.
“We need time to give our resources to answering guests’ questions,” says Linda.
Not having to make espresso drinks in this location allows baristas to take the time to answer customer’s specific coffee questions and to demonstrate how home brewing equipment works,. Customers can then be able to brew up a café quality cup of coffee at home.
This mind-set is consistent with the vibe, and is a great place to take visitors, friends, or embark on a solo, laid-back coffee mission.
10. See a Live Coffee Plant: As well as beautiful wisteria, a cool sculpture of dancing goats, a pond and quiet courtyard to sit in. Plus, on Wednesdays and Thursdays, see the refurbished vintage roaster in action. Watch through a window as the coffee takes its course, while sipping samples and learning about the process.
The Batdorf & Bronson Tasting Room is a unique look into the world of coffee, and truly an Olympia gem.
Visit Batdorf & Bronson’s Tasting Room at 200 Market Street NE in downtown Olympia. It is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.