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Food gifting: Coffee roasters and a tea purveyor

Post by Sue Kidd / The News Tribune on Dec. 13, 2012 at 3:34 pm | No Comments »
December 13, 2012 3:35 pm
Left to right are Ethiopian Harrar, green beans and roasted beans and ground beans in a coffee scoop at the Valhalla Coffee Co. News Tribune file photo

Do you have a coffee snob on your shopping list who is one of those people who has an entire cupboard in the kitchen devoted to beans and coffee accoutrements? Yeah, a gift basket with Sanka is not going to work for Mr. I Only Drink French Press That’s Been Temped at 197 Degrees. Instead, you need to get yourself to a local coffee roaster for something that’s a little more specific to a finicky palate. Have a tea drinker on your list? No problem, there’s a tea den in downtown Tacoma that’s got you covered. Read on.

Bluebeard's Kevin McGlocklin hand checks the temperature of beans while roasting at Bluebeard Coffee Roasters. Janet Jensen/Staff photographer

Bluebeard Coffee Roasters
Where: 2201 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253-253-272-5900,

On the edge of the Sixth Avenue restaurant district, Bluebeard is a lovely cafe with spacious seating and the near-permanent waft of freshly roasted coffee. The staff enjoys guiding shoppers through the product line, which you can find detailed here. I’ve spent the last month enjoying Bluebeard’s sumatra mandheling Indonesian beans. Get yourself some.

Valhalla Coffee Roasters
Where: 3918 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253-761-5116,

The staff tend to be young and moody, but this remains one of my favorite espresso stops despite the inexperienced counter help (nearby Metronome has better counter help, but no coffee roaster). The cafe seating area is nearly non-existent, but the smell of coffee will hit you a block away and guide you directly into the tiny storefront. If you’re lucky, you’ll find them roasting a barrel of beans. It’s fun to watch.

Mad Hat Tea
Where: 1127 Broadway, Tacoma, 253-441-2111,

If I’m looking for an unusual tea, I head directly to Mad Hat Tea in downtown Tacoma. Nearly every restaurant or cafe in town that has a decent tea menu already serves Mad Hat Tea, but a trip to the source is worth the bother of getting there. You used to be able to enter through the Broadway entrance in the back and above the tea shop, heading down a set of stairs next to one of my favorite Thai restaurants in town – Galanga Thai. However, on my last visit, I noticed that the back Broadway door can no longer be used as an entrance. You can detour through neighboring Shanghai House, or enter from Commerce Street. The tea house is better thought of as a tea den because the back room is subterranean, a loungey space with low-slung seating intended to spark conversation between strangers (and board games for playing if you’re there with friends). I’m a fan of the smoked tea, lapsang souchang. Mad Hat is one of few tea shops in the region that consistently carries the distinctive smoky tea.

Editor’s note: This gifting series features edibles from South Sound food businesses. Check back daily through Dec. 23 for something new.

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