Seattle is filled with many wonderful neighborhoods. Certainly, one of the best ways to explore each community is by visiting its local coffee shops. No doubt, West Seattle has many coffee gems to experience – one of which is the neighborhood stop, Bird on a Wire Espresso.
I've been here a few times this past year, and must comment that on every single occasion, I was greeted with friendly, warm service and really good coffee. I wanted to find out the back story about this little cafe with a loyal community following.
Here's a recent Q&A with Bird on a Wire Espresso owner, Heidi Herr:
When did you first open?
My first shop opened June 15th (my mother’s bday) 2002. The newest fledgling, Admiral Bird, opened Feb 3, 2014.
How did you come about naming your coffee shop?
After months of struggle and not wanting some goofy “mocha-magic” type name, I was at home and looked out the window. I saw a few birds on an electrical wire taking turns at a feeder I had hung. In my mind they looked like customers stepping up to the counter! DONE. In hindsight BRILLIANT marketing-I can’t tell you how many people send me notes/gifts/etc saying “This reminded me of you/your shop”!
What kind of products do you offer?
We are one of very few cafes to serve Raven’s Brew Coffee. They have been selling their coffee for 20 years and have a strong web-based/retail business. The owners are very selective in who sells their product and we are honored that they chose us.
We only offer local (however, reaching further down the West Coast in some cases) products-preferably from small batch brick ‘n mortars, such as ourselves. We try to use all organic foods but availability and price are sometime obstacles.
We offer some gluten free/vegan options but I won’t sell anything I wouldn’t enjoy eating myself.
We do some of our own recipes-the chai, granola, a GF banana bread, etc. We do Chai and Toddy-cold brewed coffee (no iced down hot coffee-ew)-as well, even offering it in mason jars, sold ready for home use.
What can new customers expect when visiting your coffee shop?
I hope something unlike all the other coffee shops in Seattle. REALLY GOOD COFFEE – that’s for sure…it’s why I opened a shop in the first place – SO many coffee shops in Seattle, the “coffee capitol”, aren’t very good. We really pride ourselves in our products tasting good without adding a bunch of crap to it. We make our own syrups, including salted caramel sauce. We are really good at Americanos, because that’s what most of us drink (the poor man’s latte is my fav-2x Americano with a decent amount of cream)! Cubanos are another thing you don’t find most places-a double shot of espresso with raw sugar layered between doses in the portafilter, add a touch of cream-mmmmmm! Both shops offer light breakfast. Lunch and a little Bird Food, ie: snackage.
You've just opened your second location – tell us about that.
I was approached by Wendy, owner of The Flower Lab, about occupying some space she had filled with retail items. She wanted to focus on arrangements/events, etc and needed something/someone else to happen in the 500 square feet up front. It’s great, coffee, food, flowers-and booze, we got our beer/wine license and are about to increase our menu to offer some more sustenance (savory pies with organic salads, juevos rancheros, freshly popped corn, etc). We offer draft beer and cider and a good selection of wines. We are organizing our second “Brunch is Trivial” brunch trivia on June 22nd-bottomless mimosas will be offered (word is my business partner is working on a sake-sriracha mimosa). The space is really nice-big tall window, a bustling West Seattle corner, several other small biz’s to shop at and a historic theater too!
What’s it like doing business in West Seattle?
I rarely leave “the island” I call it, I guess it’s more of a peninsula 😉 I have been in West Seattle since 1998 and really like it’s small town feel. I like that the majority of the businesses are pretty small…it offers a quieter life that I enjoy. ! I like that in the past 12 years I have gotten to know some really great peeps (that’s what we call them, Bird-themed shop and all) and have even watched their kids grow. It’s really flattering to have peeps attend both my shops-sometimes in ONE DAY. I am honored to serve them the best cup of coffee I can!
I recently attended a meeting with several other West Seattle biz’s and Councilman Tom Rasmussen regarding the $15now.org campaign. It was nice to share info on such an important topic-one that will drastically affect WS business. We are on our own out here and most are very supportive of each other (note, please reject any $15now.org amendments, it’ll destroy us).
Bird on a Wire Espresso
3509 SW Henderson St.