Batdorf and Bronson

Barista Training

fountain pen and watercolor in Canson Mix Media sketchbook 9 X 12″

The people at Batdorf and Bronson’s (Dancing Goat) roastery and tasting room have been gracious enough to let me be the fly-on-the-wall behind the scenes again; this time inside their training lab on S. Capitol Way in Olympia. When I arrived they were tasting a long row of freshly roasted cups in one of their rigorous methods to ensure top quality coffee. On the other side of the room Ben was training and testing Rowan in the fine barista art of making a variety of espresso drinks.

Ben timed and measured and tasted and took temperatures and gave scores, encouragement and corrections at every step of the process. Meanwhile Rowan concentrated with full attention, welcomed corrections and performed admirably. I was dumbfounded that so much science and precision could go into brewing an espresso drink!

And meanwhile I sketched like crazy, first with warm-up gesture sketches to discharge some of the excitement of the moment, and then with more careful pencil and finally ink lines. The color was added at home. Oh, and did I say that all the while I sipped an intoxicatingly fresh cup of French Roast coffee from the tasting room to keep my wits about me. Sort of.

If you’re in Olympia any time Wed – Sat 9am-4pm you must stop by the tasting room to sample different coffee brews, while peaking in the windows for an intimate behind-the-scenes look at roasting and maybe even training! And direct all your coffee questions to the knowledgable staff. Reminds me a lot of the fun of wine tasting that’s so popular in Sonoma County!

Roasting Coffee

Olympia is definitely on the map for gourmet coffee lovers. My family might fit that category. We buy the freshest beans, grind them fresh for each cup, and each have our own different preferred method of brewing. Just as when we lived in wine country we never considered making our own, preferring to leave that to the experts, here in Olympia we defer to the roasteries.

So in my pursuit of a warm indoor place to sketch on location I approached Batdorf and Bronson (aka Dancing Goats) for permission to sketch inside the roastery during roasting hours. They have a beautiful facility housing a coffee tasting bar, which is free and open to the public several days a week, as well as a state of the art roastery and kitchen for training barristas. My eyes got very big thinking of the sketching opportunities, with the tantalizing aromas of coffee!   

dip pen and black ink and watercolor in 9 X 12″ Canson Mixed Media

The roastery, in a warehouse filled with bags of unroasted beans from countries around the world, was humming with activity orchestrated by “the roaster”, who I learned is the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain. All the roasting that day was to order, meaning the various beans were going directly from the roaster to coffee shops and customers, fresh and aromatic. Various shoots and ladders ushered the beans through various phases of the process, releasing heat and fragrance, cracking the beans open, cooling them etc. etc. I lost track at some point and just sat entranced by the maestro, drawing the wonderful shapes as fast as possible, trying to keep the lines decisive even when not accurate. The three of us sketchers were mesmerized for at least an hour, until finally the machines were shut down, the staff got to see our sketches and invited us back! We did our tasting in the tasting room, bought some beans and plotted about coming back soon.