These past few weeks I have been working out at a client site down in Kent Washington. Working in Kent has afforded me the opportunity to checkout out some of the local cafes, restaurants and coffeehouses that I normally would not even know existed. And being that I am a Seattlelite who tends to be a little biased toward Seattle coffeehouses, I tend to skeptical whenever I buy lattes at places outside Seattle. Some of the coffee shops and stands in these smaller Washington state towns can have pretty bad coffee. And yet on more than one occasion I will be pleasantly surprised to find some of the small out nondescript places that actually has pretty decent coffee. Wild Wheat Bakery Cafe & Restaurant turns out to be one of those pleasant surprises.
Mark, the owner of Wild Wheat, not only loves coffee, but actually goes the extra step, roasting small batches of coffee in his small ‘roasting plant’ that’s a couple of doors down from the restaurant. As I was chatting with him about his love for coffee he told me how it all started. The story goes that about two years back, he and a friend, Ravi, went down to San Fransisco to take some coffee roasting classes. When they returned, Ravi wasn’t too involved in roasting business and so Mark ended up being the solo ‘master’ roaster at Wild Wheat and now two years later he is going stronger and getting better as he learns the nuances of coffee bean roasting.
He was gracious enough to take me back to this little space that is his roasting plant and tiny green coffee bean storage/office space. He proudly showed me some of the beans he had just roasted and was in the process of cooling and some decaf beans he had dome a little bit ago. He also showed me some bags and buckets containing various kind of green coffee beans to be roasted.
Some of the green beans included Kenyan, Tanzanian and Ethiopian beans. His modulus operands is simply to get different types of beans that he can then experiment with and blend together and roast (or is it roast then blend). Either way, he has some interesting coffee blends that he has turned out his cafe. Some of his favorite coffees are the Kenyan coffees, which he feels are pretty high quality and rich but he is particularly fond of the Ethiopian Sidamo coffee beans.
His packaging is simple. He packages the various roasts in simple brown paper bags and labels them with a sharpie (or for those of you who speak the queen’s English, a felt pen). These beans are available for purchase at Wild Wheat. I asked him if he sells his coffee to other businesses. “No” he replied. My impression is that he does not feel that he is ready to start selling his coffee to other businesses yet but I think if some business approached him, he may agree. Part of the reason I think this is so could be that since he is experimenting with different roasts and blends, and since his does not sell a particular roast flavor that he makes on a consistent basis, I think it is harder to sell to other businesses since they are likely to want that consistency. Yet, I think that inconsistency is also what would make Mark’s coffee an interesting adventure in taste since going at different times is likely to get you different espresso experiences.
OK, so I hear you ask, how is their coffee??? I have actually had a sampling of their coffee on at least two separate occasions. The first time a couple of weeks back I drunk a cup of their drip which I though was pretty good. Then sometime last week I after I had eaten my lunch, I headed over to Wild Wheat to try out their coffee again but this time in a latte. But the latte was good. It was a slightly different flavor from the drip coffee I remembered from the previous week but now when I think back to the conversation I had with Mark this afternoon, it all makes sense now.
I think Wild Wheat is a great place for lunch, to pick up some baked goods and certainly to try out their in-house roasted coffee…. I say, if you happen to be in the area, do pop in!