Drink: Et Tu, Java?

Microbrewing isn't just a beer thing.
| FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 

In this coffee mecca, where you can’t throw a bag of Pike Place Roast without hitting a Starbucks, we’ve moved well beyond the third wave. The growing trend among Seattle’s coffee cognoscenti is roasting in small batches. What does that mean for your morning cup? Lighter, brighter roasts that preserve more of the bean’s natural, fruity flavor; farm-to-carafe relationships with the growers; and a sense of community built around caffeine. Here are a few of our favorite micro roasters.

Elm Coffee Roasters
240 Second Ave. S, Seattle
The new darling of Pioneer Square’s bustling coffee scene, this modern café and roastery, which has been open for about a year, is packed from morning to evening. Patrons sip bright, citrusy Guatemala Francisco Giron or the chocolaty Nine Swans Seasonal Blend from handleless ceramic mugs; the remainder of each drip order is served alongside the mug in a little glass beaker. Helmed by coffee-industry vets Brendan Mullally and Drew Fitchette, Elm specializes in light roasts, a fact that’s echoed in the natural wood finishes of the café space, which overlooks the roasting room housing a Probat roaster, a brand favored by Peet’s and Starbucks. Elm sources many of its beans through direct trade, thanks to Fitchette’s previous work as a coffee importer in Guatemala. Try “One of Everything,” an actual menu item consisting of an espresso, a macchiato and a regular-size brewed coffee — $5 for the best buzz in town. You also can have a cup at Damn the Weather and The London Plane in Pioneer Square, and Métier on Capitol Hill. 
» $18 to $20 for 12 ounces. 206.445.7808; elmcoffeeroasters.com

Pollard Coffee
Online wholesale and retail, Vashon Island
You may remember Robin Pollard as the former executive director of the Washington State Wine Commission, or from her newer venture, Pollard Vineyard in eastern Washington. It turns out her winemaking chops transfer well to coffee roasting. Pollard roasts single-origin beans and unique blends on demand for online orders, or you can email her with a custom order. Her Diedrich roaster (an Idaho-made piece of equipment that’s a favorite among small roasters) never roasts batches larger than 5 pounds. Her coffee is available at Vashon Island’s Giraffe gift shop and can be tasted in the espresso bar of the Vashon Thriftway. “Just like wine, the fun of roasting and blending is that you can meld the different qualities of the beans together and end up with a coffee that exudes the best of both,” Pollard says. “But, unlike wine, you don’t have to wait one to three years to taste the final product.” Try the Patch Blend, which is Pollard’s way of using up what’s in stock and in season. Customers can let her know what kind of coffee they prefer so it’s roasted to taste.
» $16 for 16 ounces. pollardcoffee.com; 206.445.7808; elmcoffeeroasters.com

QED
1418 31st Ave. S, Seattle
What do you do with a math degree? Open a coffee shop that gives a nod to numbers nerds, of course. Matt Greenfield started QED as a small-scale wholesale roaster in 2012; the name is from a Latin term — quod erat demonstrandum — often placed at the end of a mathematical proof. After his stints at Dillanos Coffee Roasters and local coffee shops Trabant and Caffè Fiore, Greenfield opened the 12-seat Mount Baker café last May, sourcing beans from a small, Seattle-based importer called Mercanta. QED’s espresso, The Integral Blend, features components that change frequently, although its assertive character remains a consistent match for milk in cappuccinos and lattes. Also find QED beans at Makeda Coffee in Greenwood. 
» $14 to $16 for 16 ounces. 206.954.3071; qedcoffee.com 

Velton’s Coffee Roasting Company
Wholesale only, Everett
Former Bauhaus barista-turned-roaster Velton Ross has been operating his low-profile roastery since 2007 and has gained a cult following as one of the early 
micro roasters on the scene. His Diedrich roaster puts out small batches — less than 25 pounds at a time — of about a dozen blends and single-origins, ranging in flavor from brightly acidic notes to hints of caramel and molasses. And though Velton’s has no storefront, you can find bags of its beans at Seattle Coffee Gear, Caffè Delia, Yellow Leaf Cupcake Co., Convoy Coffee and in the homes of some of the city’s most revered baristas. Ross’ Twilight Blend is a popular pick for fans of dark roasts, a full-bodied gateway bean to the world of micro roasting.
» $16 to $20 for 16 ounces. 206.250.6130; veltonscoffeecom

Fundamental Coffee Company
4660 Ohio Ave. S, Seattle
Although the trend leans toward lightly roasted beans, Scott McMartin unapologetically roasts darker, in the tradition of Starbucks, where he spent nearly 20 years. The results are deeply flavorful and familiar — the Humbucker Blend, in particular, makes a solid morning French press — but a notch above what you’ll find at bigger specialty coffee chains. Know, too, that these beans are sourced well: McMartin’s previous job of buying and blending for Starbucks has taken him all over the world in his quest for the perfect cup. Stop by Fundamental’s cavernous SoDo warehouse space (very much not a café, but a roasting facility) between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Fridays to sample coffee and buy beans. 
» $13 to $19 for 12 ounces. 206.369.2475; funcoffeeco.com. 

Conduit Coffee Company
2501 Westlake Ave. N, Seattle 
When Jesse Nelson founded Conduit Coffee Company in 2012, he was a one-man show: roasting beans on “Kushli,” the name he gave his Diedrich roaster; pedaling his product — literally, by bike — to vendors; and selling bags of it at the Fremont Sunday Market. Now, thanks to an increase in weekly and monthly coffee subscriptions and more wholesale clients (you can find it yourself at Preserve and Gather in Greenwood), he has been able to enlist a full fleet of bicyclists to deliver his goods. Nelson’s signature flavor shines in the Locofocus blend of Brazilian and Salvadoran beans “stitched together,” as he says, by a washed Mexico Chiapas. Single-origin roasts from Guatemala and Costa Rica are born from recently developed direct-trade relationships. Stop by Conduit’s roastery, a former motorcycle shop, on Tuesdays between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. for the weekly open house; cuppings occur at 2 p.m.
» $14 to $16 for 16 ounces. 206.456.6536; conduitcoffee.com 

QED
1418 31st Ave. S, Seattle
What do you do with a math degree? Open a coffee shop that gives a nod to numbers nerds, of course. Matt Greenfield started QED as a small-scale wholesale roaster in 2012; the name is from a Latin term — quod erat demonstrandum — often placed at the end of a mathematical proof. After his stints at Dillanos Coffee Roasters and local coffee shops Trabant and Caffè Fiore, Greenfield opened the 12-seat Mount Baker café last May, sourcing beans from a small, Seattle-based importer called Mercanta. QED’s espresso, The Integral Blend, features components that change frequently, although its assertive character remains a consistent match for milk in cappuccinos and lattes. Also find QED beans at Makeda Coffee in Greenwood. 
» $14 to $16 for 16 ounces. 206.954.3071; qedcoffee.com 

Velton’s Coffee Roasting Company 
Wholesale only, Everett
Former Bauhaus barista-turned-roaster Velton Ross has been operating his low-profile roastery since 2007 and has gained a cult following as one of the early 
micro roasters on the scene. His Diedrich roaster puts out small batches — less than 25 pounds at a time — of about a dozen blends and single-origins, ranging in flavor from brightly acidic notes to hints of caramel and molasses. And though Velton’s has no storefront, you can find bags of its beans at Seattle Coffee Gear, Caffè Delia, Yellow Leaf Cupcake Co., Convoy Coffee and in the homes of some of the city’s most revered baristas. Ross’ Twilight Blend is a popular pick for fans of dark roasts, a full-bodied gateway bean to the world of micro roasting.
» $16 to $20 for 16 ounces. 206.250.6130; veltonscoffeecom

Fundamental Coffee Company
4660 Ohio Ave. S, Seattle
Although the trend leans toward lightly roasted beans, Scott McMartin unapologetically roasts darker, in the tradition of Starbucks, where he spent nearly 20 years. The results are deeply flavorful and familiar — the Humbucker Blend, in particular, makes a solid morning French press — but a notch above what you’ll find at bigger specialty coffee chains. Know, too, that these beans are sourced well: McMartin’s previous job of buying and blending for Starbucks has taken him all over the world in his quest for the perfect cup. Stop by Fundamental’s cavernous SoDo warehouse space (very much not a café, but a roasting facility) between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Fridays to sample coffee and buy beans. 
» $13 to $19 for 12 ounces. 206.369.2475; funcoffeeco.com. 

Conduit Coffee Company
2501 Westlake Ave. N, Seattle 
When Jesse Nelson founded Conduit Coffee Company in 2012, he was a one-man show: roasting beans on “Kushli,” the name he gave his Diedrich roaster; pedaling his product — literally, by bike — to vendors; and selling bags of it at the Fremont Sunday Market. Now, thanks to an increase in weekly and monthly coffee subscriptions and more wholesale clients (you can find it yourself at Preserve and Gather in Greenwood), he has been able to enlist a full fleet of bicyclists to deliver his goods. Nelson’s signature flavor shines in the Locofocus blend of Brazilian and Salvadoran beans “stitched together,” as he says, by a washed Mexico Chiapas. Single-origin roasts from Guatemala and Costa Rica are born from recently developed direct-trade relationships. Stop by Conduit’s roastery, a former motorcycle shop, on Tuesdays between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. for the weekly open house; cuppings occur at 2 p.m.
» $14 to $16 for 16 ounces. 206.456.6536; conduitcoffee.com