From Sound to Coffee Grounds: The Story Behind Seattle’s Anchorhead Coffee

Words by Steve Settles

With their Downtown Seattle location only five blocks away from Wayward Seattle, Anchorhead Coffee has quickly become one of our favorite local go-to coffee spots. What makes Anchorhead so special? – Craftsmanship, aesthetic, and approachability.

We caught up with Jake Paulson, co-founder of Anchorhead Coffee, to see what his coffee company is all about.

Where did your inspiration come from to start Anchorhead?

Jake: Mike (Steiner, Co-founder) and I were both touring audio engineers, and we were tired of being on the road all the time.  It sounds like it would be fun, and it was for a while, but at a point it gets tiring living on the road with 12 other people.  Mike and I had been talking for a while about what we were going to do once we quit touring, and opening a coffee shop was always on the top of the list.  Neither of us had any experience in making coffee, or running a business for that matter, but we had the internet and the experience of working a ton so we just went for it.

With the growing pains and the challenges of running your business, what has been the biggest lesson you have learned so far?  

Jake: There are probably two “lessons” I would say I’ve learned.  First, and probably the most cliche thing to say is don’t be afraid of what people are going to say or think.  You’re going to fail at some things for sure, but it’s better to try and fail, than not try at all.  When we got into the industry it felt like people saw us as a joke, or something that wasn’t going to stick around because we chose to put out cold brew even before roasting.  It wasn’t that we didn’t want to roast, but we had no idea how to or where to start. So we put out a product that got a foothold in the industry, and then we learned everything else.  We kind of did things backwards on that one.  Second, take all the chances within reason.  Send it, as the kids say these days.

Seattle’s Coffee Culture is clearly one of the largest in the world. Your brick and mortar café locations really bring a full circle experience. How important is Culture to those locations and what makes it different than the thousands of other coffee shops in the area? 

Jake: With all our brick and mortar locations we try to veer off the path of most of the coffee shops that have been popping up in the past.  We are very design focused, and we chose to go with a very dark feel for our cafes.  Not that there is anything wrong with a white sterile look, that’s just not us.  We are also very customer service oriented.  We want to create a culture that is very friendly and approachable.  As a customer, you should never feel bad about asking a question, or not knowing what something is.

You get to travel to some amazing coffee farms around the world. Has there been any weird or crazy stories from traveling to these places?  

Jake: I wouldn’t say there has been any super crazy stories, but it’s very eye opening to go to these countries.  They are usually pretty poor areas, and its super humbling to meet and talk to the people that are involved in some of the most important parts of a beverage that so many people love.  We do like to have a good time, so I’m not saying we don’t do awesome shit like surf on the top of the bus as it drives through the mountains, but it’s mostly drinking coffee and getting food poisoning.

What’s the next big thing for Anchorhead?

Jake: Our plans are to just keep growing and see where this crazy thing takes us.  We have a Bellevue cafe opening this year, as long as permits and construction go well, and we are also looking at more spots in Seattle to open.

One last question, if you were any coffee drink, what would you be any why?

Jake: That’s a tough one.  I feel like I’d probably be a large vanilla latte because that’s the most ordered drink, and makes me the most money!






Follow along Anchorhead  Coffee: @anchorheadcoffee

Follow Jake Paulson: @cinnamonswirl

Visit Anchorhead Coffee locations:

CenturyLink Plaza, 1600 7th Ave #105, Seattle, WA 98101

188 Shy Bear way NW Ste B, Issaquah, WA 98027

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