It doesn’t take long to realize that Bill, a ball of energy and optimism, is on a mission: making the best darn coffee without leaving a carbon footprint to show for it.
I was recently able to sit down with Bill, one of Seattle’s community micro-roasters just north of the University of Washington. His coffee, known as BioWilly’s Beans, is roasted using solar energy and delivered in bio-diesel outfitted cars that he rigged himself.
A few years back, Bill, who is also a middle school science teacher, began outfitting cars for bio-diesel consumption using restaurant grease to power his old Mercedes. He also helps family and friends retrofit their cars too.
His personal and all-natural “strategic reserve” contains a closet-sized contraption that mixes ethanol, lye, and used vegetable oil. Complete with tubes, dials, lights and a 50-gallon drum, he doesn’t plan to visit the local gas station anytime soon. “I haven’t been to a gas station in over seven years,” Bill says.
What's a science teacher, art sculptor (yes, he is an artist), and a self-made bio-engineer to do next? How about roast some Arabica beans using his solar energy backed power source?
For years, Bill had been roasting for fun until he got the good news his daughter was getting married. He decided to create what would be known as the “wedding blend” which he now supplies to the Eltana Wood Fire Bagel Café on the south end of Capitol Hill,of which his son is co-owner.
The whole operation is sustainable. From the organic and small farm beans he seeks out by producers who pay a living wage to laborers – right down to the delivery of his BioWilly's Beans to Eltana and others who carry his brand.
There is no question that Bill has his heart set on growing and supplying even more beans in the future. “The pleasure of measuring, roasting, watching, smelling and listening; it’s a lot of fun,” Bill says.
MINI SOAPBOX: Too many times I have grabbed a cup of coffee to go… too many times I have admired wonderful coffee art – but have not acknowledged the people behind the people who make it possible for me to enjoy coffee every single day. Bill is one of those innovative people along this essential chain. His methods, as small as they may be, have a ripple effect in every direction for the sustainable consumption of coffee. Bill and his BioWilly's Beans add to the wonderful diversity and community of people that make up Seattle.