Holy Mountain + Elm

We recently teamed up with Holy Mountain Brewery to create two coffee-infused beers: the Shadowlifter Coffee Milk Stout and the Midnight Still, a Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout. Made with our Nine Swans blend, the Midnight Still is a coffee and vanilla variant infused with Madagascar vanilla beans and coffee. The Shadowlifter is hopped with EKG and milk sugar is added to the kettle. After the beer fermented, Holy Mountain infused it with our Nine Swans blend to create a rich, malty stout.

We visited Holy Mountain a couple of months ago at their Southwest Queen Anne taproom and brewery. The taproom entrance is tucked away behind two doors separated by a long, narrow hallway. The brewery entrance, a little harder to miss, is a huge garage door.

A large concrete, warehouse style room houses the brewery's endless kettles, wooden barrels, and metal kegs marked with Holy Mountain stickers. Upon walking into the brewery we were greeted by the smell of grapefruit juice from the day prior’s zesting for a grapefruit sour. As we walked a little further into the brewery the smell or barley and good times lingered in the air.

The taproom’s "back door" - a sliding garage door - opens up on the west side of the brewery to the railroad. As you sit in the taproom you can hear the trains [loudly] go by. Natural light floods this space and creates a warm, yet minimal environment.

We really enjoy working with the folks at Holy Mountain, and you can find us hanging out at the brewery quite frequently as well. Check out their space and pick up one of their bottled beers at a variety of local vendors.

Ethiopia Bokasso

Our newest coffee is grown in the Sidama region of Ethiopia at the Bokasso cooperative. The farmers in the area bring their coffee here to be milled and prepared for export.  Bokasso is part of the Sidama Coffee Farmer’s Cooperative Union, which is the umbrella organization for all coffees grown in Sidama. Among other things, they ensure that lots are separated appropriately.  

Every region of Ethiopia produces coffees with unique qualities: coffees from Yirgacheffe are often tea-like and floral, while Sidama coffees have darker fruit flavors (think grape and raisin) with citrus accents.  Our current Bokasso Sidama is jammy and sweet, with notes of cooked peaches.

We're really excited about this new coffee, and love serving it as espresso and brewed coffee. Pick up a bag next time you're in the shop, and give it a taste if it's on the menu as one of our offerings. 


*Sidama images courtesy of Red Fox Merchants



Any Given Sunday

If you stop by Elm on a Sunday morning, you might see us in the back hunched over a line of porcelain ramekins, loudly slurping spoonfuls of coffee. It's a practice known in the coffee world as cupping, and it's just one of the many quality checks we use at Elm.   

Cupping is a practice that helps us evaluate and observe the taste, aroma and body of a coffee, and compare it to other coffees on the table. Before we start roasting on Sundays, we line up and cup all the coffees we roasted the previous week to make sure they are up to standard. We're always looking for ways to better highlight the best flavors of each one. Here's where we decide, for instance, if we want to try to make a coffee sweeter, if we want to bring out more of its lemony acidity, or if we want to make adjustments to give it a fuller body.

Here's how we cup our coffees.

You'll need coffee, a grinder, ramekins, hot water and a way to heat it, kitchen timer, two spoons per participant, a cup of hot water to rinse your spoon after each dip in coffee, and a spit cup if you don't want to be mega-caffeinated. Have a notebook handy if you are the note-taking sort.

Dose out 12 grams of each coffee you'd like to cup.

Grind and place in equal-sized ramekins, or another wide-mouthed cup. Line 'em up.

Get a kettle of water going. While it's heating up, you can smell the coffee grounds and note anything you notice there.

Have a kitchen timer handy, and set it for 4 minutes. After the water has boiled, wait about 20 seconds or so, then fill each ramekin of coffee grounds all the way to the top with hot water, about 180 grams. Smell the grounds again and note anything that jumps out of you.

Once the timer buzzes and the coffee has steeped, go down the line and 'break' the coffee crust with the back of a spoon. You'll want to do this with your nose really close to the ramekin so you can note the aroma you get when breaking. With two spoons, scoop the grounds off the surface of the cup and dispose. Grounds make a great addition to compost!

Wait for the coffee to cool a bit (can't taste coffee with a burnt tongue!) and now it's time to actually taste it. 

Dip your spoon in and SLURP! The technical term for this is 'aspirate.' You want to bring air in rapidly when you slurp your coffee and hit all parts of your tongue. This way, you'll get the full aroma and flavor of the brew. Try to note any sweetness, acidity, and how developed the coffee tastes. The more you do it, the easier it gets to put a name to that thing you taste that you just can't quite pinpoint. 

We will begin hosting public cuppings on every last Sunday of the month. The first will be July 31. Stay tuned for more information. 


Dad's Day Gift Guide

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What better way to say “I love you, Dad” than some coffee-inspired gifts? If we were a coffee-loving dad, here are the gifts that would make our day (and maybe put the giver on the fast-track to being our unspoken favorite child).

By the way, we are offering free shipping on all online orders until June 19, 2016. Just use the code 'DAD' at checkout on our website.

Elm Coffee Subscriptions (starting at $85)

Have our favorite freshly roasted, in-season coffee delivered once a week or twice a month. He'll never have to run out of coffee again. (This one's especially great as a really thoughtful last-minute gift when Father's Day sneaks up on you.)


Soft Cotton Tee ($25)

Crazy-soft white cotton tee with a gold Elm logo. Keep Dad's look on point and comfy.


Navy Ebbets Field Wool & Leather Baseball Hat ($45)

Handmade cap from local legends of the hat game. Seattle Ebbets Field Flannels made us a one-of-a-kind fitted baseball cap embroidered with the Elm logo. There's an adjustable leather strap in the back, so one size fits most Dads.


Hario Skerton Hand Grinder ($45) & Aeropress & Filters

Great for Dads who camp. Or who just like to make great coffee at home. An Aeropress is known for bringing out sweetness and great body in a coffee--you can think of it like a cleaner-tasting version of a french press. Ask any of our baristas for tips on how to brew a great Aeropress coffee if you've never had a chance to try it before.

Baratza Virtuoso Burr Grinder ($229), Baratza Vario-W Burr Grinder ($479) & Hario Gram Scale ($55)

Two of the most important factors in brewing a great cup of coffee: a high-quality grinder and a scale to keep your water and coffee ratios in check.


Bonavita 8-Cup Brewer ($200)

A lot of at-home automatic coffee brewers miss the mark, but this one does a stellar job. The main reason? Where most home brewers don't heat the water hot enough, this one gets properly up to temp at just over 200 degrees Fahrenheit. As much as we love a good pour-over, there's something beautiful about having multiple hot cups of coffee at the press of a button first thing in the morning.


Coffee Gift Card (your choice) & Elm 8-Oz. Glass Keep Cup ($25)

A hardy and sleek tempered-glass to-go cup, and a gift card so he can fill it up with his favorite coffee beverage.


Teranishi Studios Handmade Leather Tray ($50)

A beautifully constructed handmade leather tray made on Vashon Island, Washington. Lovely for serving or display.

Wild Mao Feng Green Tea from Song Tea (starting at $15)

Dad more of a tea drinker? We love, serve, and drink daily this green selection from Song Tea, based out of San Francisco. With notes of mineral, hay, and orchid, it's a new and summery favorite. The well-sized, handcrafted leather trays were designed especially for us by Teranishi Studios on Vashon Island. At Elm, we use them for One & One and One of Everything coffee flights, but we love using it for tea service at home. This pale green tea looks especially lovely in cups on top of the rich, reddish leather trays (definitely one of those drink-with-your-eyes-first situations).  

One of Everything ($5) & Donut ($2.50)

Quality time with you is probably one of his favorite things. Come visit us in Seattle's Pioneer Square and take Dad out for a coffee and a donut.  

who does your flowers?

‘Who does your flowers?’ is one of the most frequently asked questions we get at Elm.


When we were designing Elm, we knew we wanted to create a space with a cool, clean color palette inspired by a morning view on a Whidbey Island beach—foggy white, sea gray-blues and silver with driftwood beige to balance out the warm red exposed brick. That said, we try to always have a few bright, fresh and seasonal floral arrangements scattered around the shop for a cheerful pop of color.

We rely on two sources for the greenery you see around the cafe: our lovely Pioneer Square neighbors, The London Plane Flower Shop, and our owner’s mom, Marian. She is a Seattle native and former garden designer with a keen eye for color, form and the all-important ‘will it live for a while when we forget to water it.’

We tagged along on a visit to Marian’s favorite source for greenery, Seattle Wholesale Growers Market.  The marketplace, open year-round and stationed in Georgetown in the Original Rainier Brewery, is a farmer-owned cooperative providing unique in-season flowers and ornamentals from 16 farms in Washington, Oregon and Alaska directly to professional floral buyers (they are, however, open to all on Fridays from 10:00 am to noon. We highly recommend a visit!) 

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Even in December, at the time of our visit, they had a dazzling array of plants, ranging in looks from traditional to downright extraterrestrial. Fresh-cut boughs of pine and generous bundles of eucalyptus filled the high-ceilinged industrial space with the brisk, wintry smell of a forest. Makeshift worktables and shelves were packed with buckets of branches heavy with red and purple berries and snowy puffs of cotton, and lush green wreaths lined the weathered concrete and brick walls. It was quite a refreshing sight in the gloom of winter, and we left with a bucket brimming with bright green things for Elm. Check out Seattle Wholesale Growers Market website and Instagram to see what they have to offer currently—it’s been quite a colorful spring so far. 

A few tips on how we make our flowers last? When making your arrangement, cut the stems at an angle, so the flowers have as much surface area to soak up water as possible.  Throughout the life of your bouquet, empty and refill the vases daily with ice cold fresh water. Of course, some flowers are naturally hardier than others; simply removing wilted stems and letting the others shine will extend the life of your arrangement, too.


breakfast in bed.

pictured: teranishi leather tray for elm, julia paul handthrown ceramic mug, hario v60 glass server, sweet slice of cardamom cake by london plane.

Happy Valentine's Day! It's a gray and chilly Sunday here in Seattle, and the kind of morning where lingering under the covers with a cup of coffee and something sweet is the ultimate luxury.


 pictured: elm colombia agua blanca coffee, harbor herbalist rasayana tea, song golden needle black tea, v60 dripper set, teranishi leather serving tray, baratza vario home grinder, aeropress, julia paul mug for elm, navy elm baseball cap handmade by ebbets field flannels.   

pictured: elm colombia agua blanca coffee, harbor herbalist rasayana tea, song golden needle black tea, v60 dripper set, teranishi leather serving tray, baratza vario home grinder, aeropress, julia paul mug for elm, navy elm baseball cap handmade by ebbets field flannels.   

Here's to  beans, leaves and brew equipment , and staying in and brewing a hot cup of coffee or tea at home.  


beans to brew at home.



welcome to elm.

Hello! One year and one month in at Elm, and sometimes it still feels like we just opened yesterday. We couldn't have asked for a better first year, or a lovelier crew of regulars, or brighter flowers, or more sunlight streaming through the windows, or a greater rainy city to drink and serve our favorite coffees in. Thank you to all who have visited, pitched in and supported us, and welcome to our little behind-the-scenes corner of the internet. 

We're excited to have a place to go on and on about our favorite coffees: how we find and roast them, our go-to methods for brewing them, new specialty drink recipes and all the other little things in between. Stay tuned for more!