(Matt, Delia, and Eric – photo by WSB co-publisher Patrick Sand)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
You could call Caffé Delia (WSB sponsor) our area’s first co-housed coffee shop.
Or, pop-up coffee shop, as its proprietors dubbed it.
It opened one year ago in the downtown White Center space that, by night, is Proletariat Pizza.
As with Proletariat, Caffé Delia’s proprietors are a married couple – Delia and Matt. And they say Proletariat’s Stefanie and Mike had the coffee-cohousing idea in the first place – stemming from a mutual-admiration society when Delia worked at Bird on a Wire Espresso and referred people to “the fun pizza place in White Center.”
We sat down with Delia and Matt to talk about their shop and its milestone anniversary, which will be marked with a party during Caffé Delia’s regular hours tomorrow (8 am-2 pm Saturday).
Sharing a space has its pros and its not-so-pros. “We didn’t have to remodel or renovate,” Matt notes. “We just had to do some plumbing and permitting” – and, of course, installing the espresso machine.
But on the other hand, Delia says, “over the long haul, there probably is a little bit of a slower growth because of sharing – we can’t stay open later.”
For morning/early-afternoon coffee, though, they’re there for you.
Making “great shots of espresso” is a major point of pride for Caffé Delia, which has used “micro-roaster” coffee from the start. First it was Spella Caffe from Portland; now it’s Velton’s Coffee, which is roasted in the Puget Sound area. “We found it a little challenging to deal at a distance,” Delia explains, “and there’s lots of really good coffee here … Through a little research, we found Velton. He’s really close.”
Closer than Portland, anyway – Velton is in Everett; Matt notes, “He’s been in Seattle coffee for a long time. One person and a roaster.”
Other changes/additions over the first year have included newer grinders, the addition of treats from Little Rae’s Bakery, and more to come.
Now, in fact, they have T-shirts:
While this is their first anniversary of running a business in White Center, Delia and Matt have just passed their tenth anniversary of living there, having moved to WC in September 2002. Delia’s roots are in Columbia City, where her parents still live in the house they bought in 1976, when she was 2. Matt’s from Boston originally. He’s a musician – bass – and explains that they met when she was working as road manager for a band he was in.
That’s the only time she’s worked as a road manager, Delia interjects.
Her career now is not just about coffee, it’s also about personality. She has a big smile and even bigger laugh. “People LIKE Delia,” Matt enthuses.
She’s not always behind the counter, though. There’s Eric, also a White Center resident, who they describe as “amazing.”
Not only do they all live within walking distance, they really do walk or bicycle to work. “Totally car-free company,” according to the proprietors. “It’s hard to put three cases of soy milk on your bike, but we’ve done it,” Matt adds.
Their neighbors in the business district help out, he notes. “One of the neighbors will call, and they’re at (a bulk-purchase store), and say, ‘Do you need anything?'”
They’re members of the Rat City Business Association (which also sponsors WSB): “We LOVE Rat City.” (Just check out the address line on their home page. And the back of their new T-shirt, as shown above)
Whole lot of love going on. So you can show yours by coming to tomorrow’s party. The White Center-based band The Tallboys will play – with an extra White Center musician for the occasion, fiddler Greg Canote, who came up with the original Caffé Delia logo, then refined with local designer Kathi “George” Wheeler. You’ll get to hear Matt on bass, too.
You’ll be able to help raise money for the White Center Food Bank (which serves part of West Seattle, too) by buying into a raffle with prizes including Velton’s Coffee to take home – “really excellent coffee.”
Treats will include homemade cupcakes and “Texas sheet cake.”
And it really is cause for celebration. Though “the first few months were more challenging than we imagined,” Delia says, “the fact that we’ve made it a year is encouraging. We are getting busier.”
As for the future? Maybe their own space someday, so they can extend their hours. But for now, it’s party time at the pop-up coffee shop, same place you find Proletariat Pizza by night – 9622 16th SW – stop by Caffé Delia 8 am-2 pm tomorrow (Saturday, November 10th) and wish them a hearty happy anniversary.
(The rest of the time – they’re open 8-2 weekends, 7-2 weekdays, with wi-fi, big windows, and big tables where you can sit down and hang out. Find them on Facebook, too.)