Greg Brotherton

Greg Brotherton

JENNIFER JACKSON’S PORT TOWNSEND NEIGHBOR: Quilcene’s ‘quilbillies’ stand their grounds on coffee roasts

IT SHOULD CAPTURE the flavor of Mount Townsend climb with an edge of salt water, Mary Kollar said.

It should have an undertone of chicory, like people gather in the woods, Nancy Cochran said.

It should have a strong aroma and bold taste, like camp coffee, Daniel Cochran said.

“People out here spend a lot of time outdoors,” Daniel said.

“They are farmers, fishermen, mountain men and women — coarse-grained people live out here.”

Kollar, a poet, and the Cochrans, who farm in Quilcene, were among the locals — sometimes called Quilbillies — who stopped by the Quilcene Village Store on U.S. Highway 101 just north of Quilcene, which is 11.5 miles south of the state Highway 20 junction at Discovery Bay — on Sunday evening to choose the blend of coffee that would be the official “Quilbilly Roast.”

The choice: Roast No. 1, an earthy blend with a strong but mellow taste, or Roast No. 2, which had more bite.

The earthier blend led in first quarters of the tasting, but Roast No. 2 came from behind, despite what some people described as a “city taste.”

“It’s too Seattle-tasting, too Starbucks,” Daniel Cochran said.

“I used to live in Seattle. Everyone is always in a hurry.”

Local residents Tom and Cass Brotherton revived the Village Store after lack of a place to buy gasoline in Quilcene led to a community revolt.

Managed by their son, Greg Brotherton, the Village Store sells gasoline outside and inside, specializes in local products, including Sunrise Coffee in Port Townsend.

Greg Brotherton asked owner/roaster Sue Ohlson to organize the tasting to choose a coffee that captures the flavor of the community, a logging town turned retirement mecca.

Ohlson, who specializes in signature blends for local restaurants, blended the two choices for the tasting after talking with Greg Brotherton about Quilcene’s assets: the mountains, the bay, the oysters.

“I tried to bring out the earthiness in Roast No. 1,” Ohlson said.

Roast No. 1, the darker roast, led in the first quarters of the tasting, but the sharper blend came from behind.

Boosting it in the stretch were Joseph Trapanese, a tile layer who works for Walston Cunningham, a store neighbor, and Don Svetich, a firefighter for the U. S. Forest Service.

Svetich said he preferred the latter because of its aroma and strong flavor.

“After a 16- to 18-hour fire shift, it would be a perfect pick-me-up,” he said.

Coffee tasting is like wine tasting, Ohlson said, with each blend having a distinctive aroma and taste components.

“You look at ‘mouth feel,’” she said.

“It’s how it feels going over your tongue, like wine, and where the tastes linger.

“Different people pick up different things.”

It wasn’t necessary to live in Quilcene to help choose the Quilbilly Roast — anyone who stopped by was invited to vote.

Karen Barrett of Olympia, returning from Victoria with her friend Mary Groebner, said she liked the smoothness of Roast No. 1, but chose Roast No. 2 because it had more finish.

Barrett said she always stops at the Quilcene Village Store because staff members were helpful when she had car trouble on a previous trip.

Debbie and Jim Brooks of Shelton also make a point to stop at the Village Store, their favorite rest stop on the way to Port Angeles and the West End, they said.

They voted for Roast No. 2 because it had more flavor.

Also on the Roast No. 2 bandwagon were Kollar, a poet who lives on Quilcene Bay, her brother, Jim Hainer, and his son, Gregory Hainer.

Gregory Hainer, who was visiting from Los Angeles, is a sound design editor, musician and composer whose company, Scorpio Sound, does sound effects for movies — such as “Blackhawk Down,” “Prince of Egypt,” and “We Were Soldiers” — and video games, including “Batman:Ark of Asylum,” and “SkyRim.”

Hainer, who teaches at the Musicians’ Institute in Hollywood, said Quilcene’s coffee should have character and personality, so he chose Roast No. 2.

Creative types

“The creative types like the second coffee,” he said.

Others went for the mellower blend.

Alicia and Jason Johnsen of Quilcene liked the smoothness and flavor, as did Celia Pederson of Brinnon.

Norma McCown, a Quilcene resident, thought Roast No. 2 had too much of a sophisticated city taste.

Brian Monroe liked Roast No. 1’s mellow flavor.

Stan Nealey, who said he lives in East Quilcene, voted for the darker roast, but had an idea for a name change whichever one was chosen.


“I suggested “Quil-William,” Nealey said.

“I thought it would give it a little more class.”

Joy Baisch provided berry scones for the tasting to mitigate the caffeine buzz.

She and spouse Joe Baisch run Elk Meadows Bed and Breakfast and Farm in Brinnon.

“I’d serve Roast No. 1 to my guests, and I’ll keep 2,” Joy said.

Ric Brewer, who moved to Quilcene from Seattle two weeks ago, preferred Roast No. 1.

A Chimacum High School graduate, Brewer is starting his own local entity, Little Gray Farms, where he will be raising escargot — also know as snails — to sell to restaurants.

Brewer said his escargotiere will take two years to develop, and may be the only one in the country. Snails, the kind served in butter, are imported.

Some people couldn’t decide on a coffee blend.

Dora Whittaker, a Quilcene nurse who buys Sunrise Coffee regularly, said she liked both blends.

Cheryl and Michael Weir and daughter Stephanie, 18, couldn’t choose, so mixed the two.

Ohlson, who bought Sunrise Coffee 14 years ago from Christopher John, said she has done other tastings, including at the Food Co-op in Port Townsend, where Shed Blend, named for local Shed Boys, was created.

It has since been changed to Heavy Haulout, a Port of Port Townsend boat lift.

The Blue Moose Cafe, Salal Cafe and the Old Consulate Inn in Port Townsend have their own blends, as does Sunny Farms in Sequim.

“That’s the beauty of being a small roaster,” Ohlson said of being able to create blends for local businesses.

She mainly sells coffee wholesale, and stocks commercial fishing boats going to sea — right now, hundreds of pounds of Sunrise Coffee are floating to Alaska with the fleet.

She also a pot of coffee going at her business, tucked off an alley in the boat haven.

She plans to move to a larger building across from Port Townsend Brewing Company in August, pending approvals.

Check for updates.

A local tradition: when Ohlson gets a big shipment of beans, boat haven workers come over and unload the pallet.

Ohlson said the Village Store could carry more than one local blend. The runner-up could be Mount Walker Roast.

In addition to selling Sunrise by the cup and pre-packaged, the store will have bulk-bean dispensers installed for Sunrise blends, with a grinder available, Greg Brotherton said.

Contest continues

By the second hour of Sunday’s tasting, Roast No. 2 was ahead, 22 to 14, but the great Quilbilly Roast contest is not over — you can stop by the store this week, taste and register your preference.

As long as the beans last, the coffee — and the competition — are on.

The hours for the Quilcene Village Store are 7 a.m to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

For more information, phone 360-765-0090 or see


Jennifer Jackson writes about Port Townsend and Jefferson County every Wednesday. To contact her with items for this column, phone 360-379-5688 or e-mail:

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