The Conversation

Kandace: This is Unpacking Coffee. Today we’re unpacking Olympia Coffee.

Ray: Olympia Coffee Roasting Company.

Kandace: I knew who it was!

Ray: Of Olympia, Washington.

Kandace: That is amazing.

Ray: We’re trying the Adame Garbota.


Kandace: I’m not usually swayed by awards, but these guys have won a ton of awards.

Ray: Yes, they’re killing it.

Kandace: Yes, they’re killing it.

Ray: They’re killing it.

Kandace: Good Food awards.

Ray: Good Food. It’s stuck right here. I don’t know if that’s compostable.


Kandace: Are you taking that off? The bags are.

Ray: Yes, the bags are. They’re the Biotre, just like Huckleberry we covered a few weeks back.

Kandace: Cool trend to see, people moving to these.

Ray: Absolutely. It’s good for the Earth.

Kandace: Also…

Ray: Then they’ve got the little …


Kandace: …They look really nice. This is amazing.

Ray: It’s like a little drop of sticky glue here.

Kandace: Golden Sun.

Ray: I also say the design is really good. The little pop of color is very playful. It has personality.

Oliver: The bags themselves are constructed by Pacific Bag. They’re that same fully compost-able valve bag. That’s called the Biotre bag.

My name’s Oliver Stormshak, and I’m co-owner of Olympia Coffee. I also source coffee for the company, green coffee buyer, and the roast master for the company.

The sustainability aspect of those bags is what’s really appealing to us about them. Previously, the whole length of our company has had some sort of sustainable bag, and we didn’t want to move away from that. As you know, it has that block bottom, and those block bottoms tend to do really well in the café environment. They sit nicely on the shelves and look good in presentation.

The thing that’s also really different about our packaging is that we have those double-sided, flip letter press labels on them. All of our labels are letter pressed here in Olympia by the Sherwood Press.

Olympia Coffee Roasting Company Tear Away Tag

The initial presentation is the coffee cooperative, or that producer, and a brief description. We’re not going to bop you over the head with tons of geeky information about the coffee.

We’re also really passionate about that geeky information about the coffee, so we created that flip tab. You flip that tab up … It’s stuck with a little glue dot … You have the full story. Everybody who produces coffee, why it’s special, where it comes from, what it’s like to be there. Part of … Maybe I’ll share a story that happened at that farm or that co-op in that flip tab.


We wanted that to be similar to a baseball card in that you would collect them and write your own notes on them, so there’s a perforated line on there that you tearoff that label. The idea is for you, the consumer, to keep them and collect them, maybe write your own notes. “I really love this coffee,” or something like that.

Ray: Right on the back, they talk about the quality coffee, quality of life.

Oliver: Olympia Coffee has a really strong mission that’s quite different than a lot of other companies. Our mission statement as a company is to improve the quality of life. Part of that is following up in detail with coffee farmers, having a better work environment for our employees, and then providing really great coffee experiences for our customers, all under that guideline for improving the quality of life.

Ray: Kandace, were you just looking at their website?

Kandace: I was watching their video…

Ray: Oh, okay.

Kandace: I was struck by the …One of their videos in particular that was about coffee Burundi. Are you familiar with this?

Ray: Not really.

Kandace: Coffee in Burundi apparently is … There’s phenomenal coffee being grown, but at the same time, there isn’t a lot of education there about how to grow the coffee without issues. There is a bug that will boar into the coffee cherries and make the coffee that comes from that taste like a potato a little bit, a little starchy.

They’re working in partnership with the Long Miles Coffee Project to bring education to farmers in Burundi, and it’s a really under-served area. They’re starting to really help them develop their coffee. That always translates to better lives for farmers. I feel like … When they talk about this quality of life, it’s not just a slogan. It’s something that you can tell is deeply embedded into the company’s DNA. It’s really inspiring.

Ray: Yes.

Kandace: I got a little …

Ray: Oh.

Kandace: The former protester hippie in me was very happy about this coffee.

Oliver: I was in Ethiopia and Kenya for two weeks, in Africa. Part of that was solidifying the purchases for the year from those two countries, but then also actively following up with some of the cooperatives that we work with year after year, touching base on what’s working for them, and what’s not working for them, and trying to help them problem solve …

Ray: Okay.

Oliver: …To improve what they do.

Ray: Interesting thing to what you’re talking about there is that Oliver actually …

Kandace: Did he talk a little bit about this?

Ray: He did. He has a background in agriculture, so that’s a lot of what he tries to do at sources to help them grow better coffee.

Kandace: It’s got to feel really good to have coffee that you’re putting so much love and work into be recognized.

Ray: Yes.

Kandace: To say all these awards, it’s coming out of the time that’s spent making this phenomenal product.

Ray: They were awarded Roaster of the Year by our friends at Roast Magazine.


Kandace: Yes. 2013, right?

Ray: Yes.

Kandace: Yes, and we actually heard about Olympia Coffee from Sarah Dooley at Milk and Coffee.

Ray: That’s right.

Kandace: Yes. Oh boy. It was so good…

Ray: Get a room, you guys.

Kandace: … And then it was not so good.

Ray: All right.

Kandace: Not with that sound. I shouldn’t have watched that video. I swear it’s still …

Ray: Holy shit, are you still emotional?

Kandace: Yes! It’s ridiculous!

Ray: What was the video on?

Kandace: It was about Burundi.

Ray: It was about insects!

Kandace: It was about Burundi. It was like kids and they were like…

Ray: Why do you get so emotional when it’s about insects and plants? It’s a serious question.

Kandace: I know. I can’t talk about it.

Ray: Really?

Kandace: Yes! I don’t know why!

Ray: Should we show some of the video?

Kandace: Yes! Show some of the video.

Ray: What the hell is …

Kandace: You guys cry.

Ray: Okay, yes, you cry. She doesn’t have to. She’s not paid to cry.

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