Voted Best Coffee five years in a row for Best of Olympia, Olympia Coffee Roasting Company continues to strive for and succeed at making the best coffee. From their beginnings as a wholesale coffee roaster downtown, they have grown not only in locations but intrinsically with business practices reaching from farm to café to customer. Awards, recognition and high-ranking coffee quality scores reflect Olympia Coffee taking the time to invest in and care for its staff, growers and customers. That’s how the best coffee is made.
Coffee has become an ingrained part of our daily routine, and coffee drinkers have experienced different processes, blends and trends over America’s history. Dark roasts have been very popular, but at the same time, additional flavors are out there to discover.
“We’re bringing the Northwest to a little bit lighter spectrum of coffees and a little bit more flavor-forward and sweet and avoiding the bitterness of dark roasted coffee,” Oliver Stormshak, co-owner, president and green coffee buyer for Olympia Coffee Roasting Company says. “We know that our customers have gotten used to darker roasted coffee, so we are making a nod to that history with blends like our Big Truck Organic but also featuring some of these lighter roasted coffees and fruitier coffees.”
Part of making such good coffee is developing a relationship with the farmers and pickers on the agricultural end of production. Olympia Coffee embarked on direct trade projects when Stormshak was hired on in 2009. In 2010, Stormshak and Sam Schroeder, who was the first employee of the company, joined together and purchased the business.
“We were excited about the way direct trade developed,” Stormshak continues, “but we would visit these farms and see that the people picking the coffee were living in cardboard shacks, didn’t have enough food to eat or any education for their children. We came up with a further initiative that we call Fair for All. It’s the idea that everybody who is part of growing coffee for Olympia Coffee is benefiting from it. There is a guarantee of a fair wage for the person who is actually picking the coffee, not just the person who owns the farm, which is kind of where direct trade stopped. Fair for All is really an insurance policy that everyone is benefitting. There’s no child labor. There is drinking water. There are bathrooms on the farm.”
Olympia Coffee Mission
The Olympia Coffee mission is “to improve the quality of life of farmers and staff by providing quality service to our communities.” From that statement branches arms of support for farms in countries around the world, for company employees and to the surrounding neighborhood of each café. Becoming a B-Corp, a benefit corporation, provided a rigorous, third-party auditor who communicates out that a company is indeed benefitting suppliers, employees, customers, the community and the environment.
Furthermore, as a social purpose company, Olympia Coffee bylaws must include workers as well as environment. They visit farms in person, interviews laborers and see that growers are providing drinking water and bathrooms for their workers. They look for documentation that the high premiums they pay are passed down through the payroll to those who produce the coffee.
The 4th Avenue location hosts pop-up events for local businesses to showcase their own products in the community. Olympia Coffee conducts self-evaluations about diversity, equity and inclusion. Operating on 100% green power and using fully compostable cups are some of their environmental practices.
Even with B-Corp oversight, Olympia Coffee established its own Fair for All standards, which translate to better pay, transparency, living wages, farm worker safety, continuous improvement and the highest quality. The company is also certified as a Living Wage for Coffee Employer by Living Wage for US. All of the roasting company coffees are Fair for All, and they are the first in their industry to ensure that.
Olympia Coffee Roasting is Award Winning and Branching Out
Awards and recognition from the industry have resulted in an impressive list. Olympia Coffee won the United States Brewers Cup, Northwest Brewers Cup and the United States Barista Competition all more than once. Olympia Coffee is a high scoring coffee, earning a very high average on the world stage of coffee. Professional nods come from industry publications, and the well-deserved list of awards goes on. Greene Realty Group has also highlighted Olympia Coffee in one of their community stories videos, featuring Stormshak and an overview of the business.
Olympia Coffee branched out after the West Harrison location, including expanding the downtown 4th Avenue space, setting up in the South Capital Wildwood building, West Seattle and Tacoma. Each café aims to be a vibrant community space where customers can enjoy fresh roasted coffee, smell the aroma and where they can experience a moment of joy.