It all started with a trip to Europe in 2014. The Rice family, including husband Ken, wife Jalee and their two grown children, Kaden and McKenelee, fell in love with the culture and atmosphere in the European coffee shops. “The cafes we visited were full of personality, very personable, and had a wonderfully diverse stream of customers,” Jalee shares. That trip six years ago planted a seed in them to roast and serve their own coffee in their own community of Olympia. In 2021, that dream came to fruition with Samayra Coffee.
“Being able to meet new people from our community every day and serve the very best coffee and freshly baked pastries was so appealing to us,” Jalee continues. “We love to entertain in our home, so we hope that people get the sense that this is an extension of hospitality that you would receive in our own kitchen.” And just like at home, roasting coffee is a family affair for the Rices, with both Kaden and McKenelee helping out. Both have worked in the local coffee industry prior to the start of Samayra, so they had invaluable experience to share.
You can throw a rock and hit a coffee stand or shop (come on, it’s Washington!), but what makes Samayra Coffee different from a lot of coffee companies is that they roast their own beans. A large undertaking for a new venture, especially during COVID-19, it was something the family was passionate about. “We decided to roast our own beans because we wanted to chase certain nutty and dark chocolate notes in our own, unique espresso roast,” shares Jalee. “By micro-batch roasting our own beans, we have the capacity to only use the best quality beans from regions that produce the flavor notes we desire. It gives us the ability to develop each individual profile and blend accordingly giving us that consistent smooth quality.”
For their first roast, they focused on an espresso, which their son developed, along with many of the drinks they offer. Currently, their beans are from Sumatra, Brazil, Guatemala and Honduras. They plan on launching small batch, single origin roasts soon as well.
Walk into the Samayra Coffee Shop located in the former home of Mud Bay Coffee off of Cooper Point Road and you will immediately feel at home. A fireplace, concrete slab counters, light wood floors, grey on grey walls and warm light coming from wrought iron fixtures complete the farmhouse kitchen look. They worked hard on the remodel says the friendly Barista behind the counter, to make it feel like you’re walking into someone’s airy and inviting kitchen.
One of the biggest changes is the removal of the back room, which now houses the roaster. Yup, they roast your coffee right in the store! “It has been a great conversation piece and when people see the work room, they know the coffee they are drinking was roasted that week,” explains Jalee. And when you taste the coffee, you can taste the difference. It’s fresh and not acidic like many espresso roasts. It has a smooth rich flavor that compliments whatever else you like to add to your coffee, like almond or oat milk, or their house-made vanilla syrup (which you have to try, it’s incredible).
“We wanted only the best natural ingredients and we believe you can taste the difference immediately,” explains Jalee when asked why they make their own vanilla. “It is also a telling of quality when you can actually see the tiny vanilla beans floating atop of the foam of your latte. We are actually talking to a local chocolatier about making our other sauces private for Samayra. It was our goal from the beginning to offer espresso drinks that were lightly sweetened so that our customers could actually taste the notes of the coffee.” She adds that they will be making seasonal syrups from scratch as well, so be on the watch for those as we head into the fall coffee season.
One thing you may notice is they do not currently offer decaf coffee, though they do have decaf teas, including a decaf chai, which is something not often found at other shops. The Barista mentioned that it can be as much as double the cost to create decaffeinated coffee. “One of our core values is quality and we want to serve only the best products that we can be proud of,” adds Jalee. “Not only is decaf more expensive than regular beans, it is very difficult to achieve the flavor profile that we are looking for. The two main decaffeination processes extract much of the natural flavors of the beans leaving behind a muted and sometimes chemical-like flavors. It is on our future list to explore roasting decaf and if you ever see it on our menu, rest assured it will be good.”
I usually drink decaf, but their coffee is so good, it’s worth the caffeine. And, definitely stop by to try their teas, especially the decaf chai. Ask them to add a bit of their house-made vanilla. You won’t be disappointed.
Samayra Coffee Co.
1600 Cooper Point Road SW Ste 630, Olympia