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Coffee City

Melissa Allison follows the world's biggest coffee-shop chain and other Seattle caffeine purveyors.

September 22, 2009 at 11:46 AM

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Fremont Coffee starts roasting to gain cachet, control flavor (and, it saves money)

Posted by Melissa Allison

bizfreemontc07[1].jpgChris Webb at Fremont Coffee has stopped buying beans from Lighthouse and is roasting his own.

The flavor wizard (pictured in his lab below the coffee shop) has sold Chinese herbal medicines for years, and more recently concocted root beer, ginger brew and hibiscus ginger soda that flies out of his coffee shop's refrigerator case.

Now, with the help of a roaster from the East Coast named Aric Annear, Fremont Coffee is selling a single-origin Tanzanian peaberry that Webb calls "killer" even though it was overroasted by about eight seconds.

He's a month or so away from perfecting the espresso blend, Webb said, sounding Schomer-esque about flavor precision. Michael Allen Smith, organizer for the Coffee Club of Seattle, had "great espresso" there this week. "It was much better than anything I've had there before."

Although roasting your own coffee saves money -- green coffee begins at $2 a pound, compared to $7.50 for wholesale roasted coffee, Webb said -- he started roasting to gain more respectability with coffeehouse customers and to work with the flavors.

He and Aric are roasting with a 25-pound San Franciscan roaster he bought more than a year ago from Pioneer Coffee Roasting in Cle Elum. Rumor is it's Caffe Vita's first roaster, Webb said.

Coming soon: Fremont Coffee cuppings.


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