The best thing to pair with coffee may just be breakfast. While it's easy to get lost in the world of coffee, to treat it more like wine and meticulously search for every nuanced flavor, it's hard to deny the sheer joy of a cup of coffee served alongside a big ole syrupy waffle. And at Watson's Counter in Seattle, Washington, you can get just that.
But this isn't some greasy spoon establishment (though it's hard not to love them too). Watson's Counter takes an elevated approach to both the coffee and the brunch bites they are serving. With coffee from nearby Anchorhead Coffee, Watson's Counter owner James Lim brings Korean flavors to many of the AM food staples that can be found on the menu. Think offerings like gochujang chicken and waffles and ssamjang fried egg sandwiches. To find out more about Watson's Counter, we spoke digitally with Lim.
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Introduce yourself to our readers — tell us about your cafe!
Thank you so much! We are Watson's Counter, a cafe and restaurant in the north end of Ballard in Seattle, Washington. We boast a full specialty coffee program alongside a kitchen focused on classic brunch foods and afternoon bites with flavors drawn from my Korean heritage. We used to pride ourselves on being a full table-service brunch spot as well as your stop for morning coffee. Even though we can't do that now, our focus is still to provide our guests with a good experience when handing out their food and drinks to go!
What equipment do you use in your shop?
We use the Modbar AV system for our espresso and the EP steam. It's helped us provide service without a barrier and allow people to be a part of our espresso-making process. We bulk grind on the Mahlkönig EK43S and batch brew through a Wilbur Curtis G4.
Which roaster or roasters do you serve?
Currently we are serving Anchorhead Coffee, which is a local roaster here in Seattle. They are our sole roaster, but we are looking forward to being able to bring on guest roasters, post-pandemic of course.
What is the neighborhood like where you're located? What's some other cool stuff nearby?
Our neighborhood is very suburban. Although we are close to the cool hip area of Ballard, we're a little ways away, which allows us to actually be more of a neighborhood spot than a destination spot. The goal has always been to be the place that I want in my own neighborhood. Just a few minutes away there's a lot of nightlife with tons of awesome breweries, bars, and amazing restaurants. Otherwise, going to the Ballard Locks is always awesome to see. It serves a lot of great purposes and it's just a cool feat of technology.
Did you close during a mandated Coronavirus shut-down, and if so, for how long?
We didn't close. Much prior to any mandate we limited service drastically and worked on redeveloping our business model. We pivoted to more to-go friendly menu items and created a barrier to prevent anyone from entering our premises. We take orders primarily online and have gone to contactless payments. We'll continue this until it is truly safe to re-open for guests to dine in.
How has the Coronavirus impacted daily work at your cafe?
Aside from wearing masks, because our model has changed we have shifted from folding napkins to writing “thank you! <3” on every paper bag in existence. There's obviously the extra focus on cleanliness and sanitary procedures, but our daily focus has not changed. We still dial in both of our single-origin coffees like every morning and plate our dishes in boxes like it's being delivered to Gordon Ramsay. Research and development has never stopped and cupping procedures may have changed, but we are always working to improve.
What's something cool or unique about your cafe you want folks to know?
I think the coolest thing about us that people don't know what to expect. The foodie culture doesn't realize we have a high-end coffee program and the specialty coffee community is surprised that we have a high-end food program. We source locally as much as possible and focus on serving food that is ethically sourced to ensure that we can have high quality products.
Is there a community organization or charity you'd like to shout-out as part of this feature?
With our country being the way it is, I would like to put Every Last Vote in the spotlight. They are working on mobilizing marginalized voters all across the United States. We are actually working on a fundraising project to support them.
All photos courtesy of Watson's Counter, used with permission