2017 feels like a banner year for coffee projects in Washington State located beyond the urban hegemony of the city of Seattle. That city—where this website was first plotted and launched—has become an at-times unrecognizable techno-future parody of itself, with rents up 300% and vast swaths of the city transformed into sprawling CondoLands. Seattle is still a beautiful and delicious place but running a small business there is, as the kids say, “problematic AF RN.”
So it makes sense that all this cool stuff would be popping up in places like Everett, and Tacoma, and now Bellevue, home to today's featured Build-out. Third Culture Coffee is a multi-cultural, international new cafe concept from founder/partners Radhika Kapur and Varun Das, fusing Indian cafe culture with cutting edge third wave coffee sensibilities from around the world. It opens this week in Old Bellevue, just across the I-90 bridge—and a world away—from Seattle.
As told to Sprudge by Radhika Kapur.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
The story of Third Culture is a love story. It’s a story about connecting with people, reliving cherished memories, getting excited about discovering the world and about exploring different cultures all through medium of coffee and tea. We believe that love and care are the most important ingredients in a recipe and that these ingredients hold the power to impact flavors, create memories and truly make a difference.
All through our life, we (my husband and myself) have experienced different cultures across the world from India, Asia, to Australia, to Europe and now Americas. Third Culture is a culmination of all those experiences coming a full circle, of us giving in to our passion to provide an experience to our guests, a moment that our guests can cherish, with freshly roasted flavorful coffee or with delectable single origin teas, a moment when they can indulge in luxury.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
The flagship store is located in Park 88 building in Old Bellevue, just off the Main Street, right next to Bellevue's Downtown Park. Old Bellevue is a beautiful place that hosts world class independent shops, restaurants and cafes that add charm to the rapidly expanding Bellevue downtown. The shop is located right next to some of the most popular restaurants in Bellevue and is also a skip and a hop away from the revived Bellevue Downtown Park–a newly expanded park that now includes a world class innovative playground for kids of all ages and abilities to explore and enjoy.
The shop itself is around 1,700 square feet, with floor-to-ceiling windows at the front and a large bar. We have shelves at the back of the bar that are topped off with a Blackboard menu. Since we represent a global view on coffee, we have chosen furnishings to represent that vision. We will have a traditional Kerala wooden copper swing, Parisian cafe chairs, comfy sink in leather armchairs and a long community table which encourages interaction between guests. We will also have a play area dedicated to our little guests featuring toys, books, a blackboard and kids activity table.
What’s your approach to coffee?
Our vision is to showcase different cultures of coffee that are prevalent across different countries , all under one roof, while being respectful to the authentic traditional recipe and amazing high quality ingredients. We want to highlight the flavors that different drink styles and brew methods can bring to a cup.
We let the coffee shine through thoughtful and precise execution. We feature single origin coffees, along with our house blend on our espresso machine and pour overs. We work very closely with True North Roasters to bring exceptional coffee to our guests, that has been expertly roasted to highlight the flavors of the coffee. All of our offerings change seasonally to keep things fresh and exciting.
We want to bring the story of coffee to the forefront and go on a journey with our guests around the world. We will be exploring flavor variations of the same bean, different brewing methods, or different beans, same execution through cold and hot flight offerings. We are also venturing in the exciting space of coffee and spirits, offering some traditional and some innovative spiked coffee beverages that allow us to explore coffee flavors in another dimension.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
As per our vision to bring our menu to life we will be using a mix of traditional brewing equipment like the traditional Indian Meter Coffee brewing vessel, Vietnamese phin, etc. For single origin pour-over we will be using Saint Anthony Industries Phoenix and Filibuster. We are obsessive about consistency and quality so will be venturing into the world of distribution tools and high precision scales like the Acaia. For espresso, we are going with our first love, the La Marzocco Linea PB with scales. For grinders we have chosen to go with a Mazzer Robur and Kony and a Mahlkönig EK-43. For crockery we are going with the NotNeutral cups for espresso based drinks, for the ease and execution of latte art and effortless cup hold for our guests. For cold brews, we will be using the Bodum double walled glasses, keeping the guest comfort and execution in mind.
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
Third Culture Coffee was a dream which is being brought to life by a group of extremely talented people.
My husband Varun Das, our partner and friend Adarsh Nair, and I have worked on the vision for more than year now, from identifying the perfect menu, to dialing in the recipes to the look and feel of the place. Dustin Chapin from Clark & Chapin Architects got us started on the vision of the space and the build out. Stephen Brakebill of Brakebill Construction, our longtime friend and general contractor, stepped into commercial retail build outs with this as his first project. His team of Jim, Josh, Tom, Lauren are all superstars without whom this would not be turning into a reality Shahzad Qadri from Wong & Fleming, entrepreneurial lawyer, who got us in shape for turning this dream into a reality. Megan Ruhlach for getting us started on our logo journey and Eric Fisher for his amazing design aesthetic and turning us into a brand that was a true representation of us.
Thank You so much for setting up this kind of a program. It is absolutely fantastic!