Life Happens: In the course of business and life, things change over time. I NEED to update this KUMA article – or possibly do another one altogether (5/2013)
A visit to Kuma Coffee confirms that wonderful things really can come in small packages. Other than the drive-thru coffee shacks or street carts I’ve visited, this café is the smallest coffee shop I have been to in Seattle…
Small on Space. Big on Coffee.
Kuma Coffee is small. And yet, the space is beautiful and inviting. The art on the walls, its natural color palate, the general décor… the whole set-up makes you want to stay, but of course, you can’t because it’s really, really tiny. They have a small little porch deck with stools that extends no more than a couple of feet, but it’s simply perfect.
A little chatter around town has been pointing me to Kuma Coffee for some time. I was told that they were one of the best newest micro-roasters in Seattle. Naturally I wanted to check them out for myself. So, with a bit of sunscreen, I took advantage of the nice weekend weather and trekked to Wallingford by foot.
While there are some very high quality larger roasters in Seattle, I have lately turned an eye to smaller roasting operations.
Micro-roasters seem more organic in nature; and much closer to their consumers than the larger corporate coffee conglomerates. Micro-roasters are, in my opinion, the young seedlings of our Seattle coffee culture and they deserve special attention.
And so, it was with great excitement – you can even say vigor – that I followed my shadow as I walked up Stone Way to Kuma Coffee.
When I had finally reached Kuma's, Steve, the barista was closing up shop. Oh man, I felt gray clouds of defeat approaching. I have should have checked the hours of operation. I have should have walked a bit faster… I should have taken the bus…
“Are you closed?” I asked, already knowing the answer and feeling my spirits about to wane.
“Well…” began Steve.
“I've just walked all the way from Capitol Hill,” I quickly interjected to incite a bit of compassion.
After a quick once over (He must have seen the impending disappointment in my eyes, the quick potential of sulking shoulders, and the rapid slowing of the music that was playing inside my head) he smiled.
“Oh, Sure I can make you something,” he said and waved me in.
And just like that, the music in my head was restored, the birds were chirping again, the clouds cleared, and the clanking of the coffee grinder which often precedes the espresso machine being switched to work its magic was filling the air. Life was good.
Steve was more than happy to fix me a double shot of espresso. He even entertained a few questions about their store and coffee in general and then sent me along my way, as a candy store owner would to a happy child on a Spring afternoon.
The story of Kuma Coffee is pretty cool. Here’s the shotgun version: A kid from New York goes to Africa with his missionary parents and learns the local language and coffee varietals. After a few years, he heads to downtown Seattle and becomes a barista. During his time in Seattle he becomes friends with a dog named Kuma. After a few years, he starts making coffee for family and friends. His friends give him a big thumbs up. With little fanfare, Kuma Coffee is born.
And yet there is so much more to this story. Blood, sweat, and tears. Dedication. Long nights. Trial and Error. Risk. In the end, Kuma Coffee was conceived in thoughtful, generous love.
I was reminded to visit Kuma Coffee by the good folks over at Trabant Coffee & Chai in the U-District which serves their beans. The barista there couldn’t stop talking about them. So, I figured that when I had some time I’d go to the source…
Without a doubt the coffee was excellent. In fact, if I was stuck in Seattle with only two dollars in my pocket, guess where I’d be? That’s right. I would gladly spend my last two bucks at Kuma Coffee.
(Now, if I had only $4 bucks left in my pocket… I’d might be tempted to keep walking down the street to the Fremont Brewery for a pint of their Interurban. Could you blame me?)
Location: 4110 Stone Way N