“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.” - Mark Twain
by Nicole Lisson
- The Capitol Hill Times -
It started with an intense passion for coffee.
A small Airstream trailer rests in the back parking lot of Piecora’s. People line up outside, braving the cold to get their first jolt of caffeine for the day. A smile creeps up their faces when they realize that this is no ordinary coffee. Siblings Keenan and Chelsea Walker, with their mom, Lisanne, are the brains behind Slate Coffee Roasters.
“We’re all really passionate about coffee, and, like most families, it is a life long tradition,” Chelsea Walker shared with me this past Thursday. “We decided to focus on what we love.”
Their love took her brother and mother on a journey throughout Europe, visiting Italy, Germany and England on search for well-established businesses and to see what they were doing well. Inspired by what they learned, they came back to the United States, where they then assembled a talented group of coffee professionals, like Timothy Green, Brandon Paul Weaver and Nik Virrey.
“We all have coffee connections,” Chelsea answered when I asked her how they all knew each other.
Once the opening staff was in place, they sat down together and discussed where they saw coffee going in Seattle and created a vision that is now Slate Coffee Roasters. Since Seattle has a coffee shop on every corner, you might wonder what makes Slate stand out from the rest.
“A lot of it has to do with our modern menu and how we are focusing on our ingredients,” explained Chelsea.
Speaking of the menu, you won’t find any vanilla triple soy lattes here. There are only three options: Espresso Neat, Espresso with Milk, and Hand Brewed Coffee. Slate Coffee Roasters is about highlighting the coffee, not masking it. Brandon Weaver dived into the scientific reason behind why that is.
“Coffee is a fruit, so if you treat it the right way, it will taste like the fruit it is. More then that, coffee is one of the most chemically complex things humans consume, period. So you can have flavors you can’t get anywhere else.”
With beans that are direct trade, they are as fresh from the fields as you can get. In fact, Slate is Facebook friends with one of their growers down in Honduras, who sends them pictures of the coffee as it is being processed. Although it is a tad more expensive to cut out the middleman, you wouldn’t expect anything less from a business with so much infectious enthusiasm about their product. On top of the mobile cafe, Slate has a roaster on 19th and Alder St. and a soon-to-be brick and mortar location in Ballard, which will send a message that coffee is like fine cuisine, not fast food.
“Our menus will be little hand out menus that you get at restaurants. You can look at it, take your time and not make a rushed decision. You can find something you really enjoy,” Brandon said.
Slate wouldn’t be what it is without the artistry their staff brings to the table, like Timothy Green, who has placed in the finals at barista competitions. For somebody like me, who has never heard of such contests, Timothy shed some light on the subject.
“You have 15 minutes, and in that time frame you make four espressos, four cappuccinos and four signature drinks. The judges rate your technique, your
ability to manage your station, your overall cleanliness and the constancy of your technique.”
This kind of dedication towards his work shines through when you taste flavors that you have never before tasted in your coffee. Brandon Weaver and Nik Virrey are equally accomplished in the coffee world, also placing in barista competitions.
Although Slate Coffee Roaster is relatively new, they have set their sights on several goals. “We want to remain Seattle based, we want to see ourselves in more neighborhoods, and we’re launching our wholesale business as well,” Chelsea said. “But really, our goal for the next several years is to continue to serve exceptional coffee and, hopefully, make an impact on the coffee culture in Seattle.”
For right now, Slate is open Tuesday through Thursday, from 6:30 a.m. till 11 a.m. on 14th avenue and Madison. Grab a handcrafted cup of brew and taste the difference.