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Q&A with Seattle Icon David Schomer as Espresso Vivace Plans Roastery Move

espresso vivace roastery

Espresso Vivace head roaster Dan Reid at the current 11th Ave. Roasteria.

Aside from a first year roasting in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, Espresso Vivace been roasting in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood for 23 years.

The Vivace “Roasteria” debuted at 901 E. Denny, eventually outgrowing the space and moving to 11th Ave. between Pike and Pine in 2004. It lives there today to supply  Vivace’s wholesale clients and its own retail shops, all three of which are, not coincidentally, within a two-mile radius.

The Roasteria is soon to take another walk through the neighborhood, as Vivace relocates roasting ops to the lower level of the Garage billiards and bowling hall on Broadway.

The Garage on Broadway. Google photo.

The Garage on Broadway. Google photo.

With a move scheduled for later this year, we thought it a good time to check in with Vivace founder, renowned espresso author and Seattle coffee icon David Schomer.

Like your current roasting space, your new space will not have a retail component. Why the devotion to roasting on Capitol Hill?

My commitment to roasting on the Hill is so I may walk my rounds each day. For a variety of reasons, I will not commute by car or bike any longer. I biked from my home in Fremont for well over twenty years until two years ago when I found a great place on Bellevue Ave E. I am much happier walking around my city.

How did you discover the new roasting space?

I found out about the space by running into Alex Rosenast, whom I had known for years, and we started talking while we walked up by Cal Anderson Park. I mentioned my long-range goal of obtaining a stable lease for roasting on the Hill and he invited me to look at his basement at Garage — old boys networking. We should start the buildout August 1 and be up and running by December 2015.

Any new equipment plans?

We roast on a Diedrich CR-30 with a Diedrich IR-24 as a backup unit. We will keep the same equipment and have no marketing plans to expand — all word-of-mouth as usual, which I find is a more reliable growth method given the quality of what Vivace puts in the bag.

Do you have plans for additional support or programming spaces?

There will be an employee lounge, a break area for the staff on-hand. There will also be a training facility for staff trainings, which are currently conducted at our Brix store.

Are you making any other moves in the neighborhood?

Our news is that we would like to move 321 Broadway — the sidewalk bar — to the new transit facility where we ran the Roasteria from 1992 until 2008. When a retail tenant is forced to move under eminent domain law, they do not get much assistance from the city or state. Vivace was almost bankrupted by this event, so it would be nice to make coffee there again.

However, you will never find a more passionate supporter of transit options in Seattle than myself. The car culture is totally toxic and urban centers such as Paris, London, and even New York are trying very hard to take back their cities from the car and allow the people to live and breathe. Nothing is a more important issue for Seattle. I hate that many people feel they do not have options other than their car.


1 Comment

Mike Quinn

Finally, something about an adult who actually knows how to roast coffee properly. Too bad you didn’t actually talk to him about coffee roasting, per se! He’s an inspiration!

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