Among the “trails” Pacific Northwest tourists can travel: there’s Oregon’s southernmost wine trail, Bend’s Inhale Trail, the Oregon Coast Ale Trail, and, just across the Canadian border, British Columbia’s Dumpling Trail. Now, Washington’s state capital is jumping on the bandwagon, with Olympia’s self guided South Sound Coffee Trail—a 3.5-mile route that connects Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters, Olympic Crest Coffee Roasters, and Olympia Coffee Roasting Co.
Three coffee roasters may not sound like much of a “trail,” but hey, even I—no huge coffee drinker—have to admit there’s something enticing about the aroma of just-roasted coffee beans, the sizzle of frothing milk, and the comfy lounge chairs of truly local coffee shops. Sam Schroeder, co-owner of Olympia Coffee Roasting Co, says there's no better way to get to know a community.
“People go to coffee shops because they want to have a good time," says Schroeder, who is part of the braintrust behind the coffee trail concept. "Atmosphere plays into that. If you’re not having fun, the shop is doing something wrong.”
The trail itself factors into a larger area tourism initiative; it piggybacks on the South Sound Wine Trail and the South Sound Craft Crawl. Eventually, says Schroeder, the coffee trail will hope to draw in even more area roasters.
“We’re all about hand-crafted experiences here in the Olympia region,” says Shauna Stewart, executive director of the local tourism board. “Coffee culture is a huge part of that.”
Portlanders might have previously encountered Batdorf & Bronson, which has made appearances at the Portland Saturday Market and at the Holiday Ale Festival. Other South Sound Coffee Trail stops are more exclusively local: Olympic Crest Coffee Roasters, for example, is the only full-service coffee company in nearby Lacey.
Schroeder hopes the newly launched trail will help connect Olympia with the region’s larger locavore movement—and maybe win a few new fans beyond the South Sound.
“Olympia has a lot of people who are really passionate about food,” says Schroeder. “There is an incredibly passionate base of customers who are into this sort of larger craft food movement, and I think that meshes really well with what we want to do with coffee.”
Take the trail's quiz to find out your coffee style.