Q&A with Seed to Bean Founder, Nichole

Q&A with Seed to Bean Founder, Nichole - Seed to Bean

What does Seed to Bean mean to you?

Seed to Bean is a coffee brand that aims to make a difference. It exclusively offers organic, fairly traded coffee and is a small business owned by a black woman. In the coffee industry, there are few companies like Seed to Bean, and I want to challenge this norm and showcase our success.

How does Seed to Bean contribute to the coffee industry?

I believe purchasing the right beans and not cut corners when it comes to quality helps our farmers, our communities, and climate. Plus it delivers a great cup of coffee. 

Seed to Bean donates to multiple charities, why?

During my college years, I had the opportunity to work at a supplement store and Whole Foods Market. These experiences truly enlightened me about the origins of our food, the inner workings of the food industry, and the significance of self-care and environmental stewardship. It dawned on me that giving back is paramount, for two reasons: firstly, expressing gratitude for what we receive is crucial, and secondly, I strive for my customers to feel content knowing that their purchases contribute to a company that actively gives back to society.

How did you come up with the art on the Seed to Bean coffee Bags

In short, my upbringing in the 90s as a person of mixed race was difficult due to the lack of representation. It was a challenge to find toys and other items that reflected my identity. To feel a sense of validation, I would request my parents to purchase two sets of baby dolls and families for my dollhouses: one set with white dolls and the other with black dolls. This allowed me to carry both baby dolls and blend the families together in one dollhouse, enabling me to express and represent myself. This experience served as the inspiration behind my creation of coffee bags for Seed to Bean that celebrate women of mixed heritage.

What about the theme of your website, coffee bags, and social media accounts?

After visiting cafes outside of the United States, my expectations for themes and originality went up. That's when I started thinking about how I could stand out. One day, I was reminiscing about my younger years and what made me happy, like music, art and fashion. That's when I had the idea to go for a 1960s and 1970s style. I really love that era because it was a time of creativity, freedom, and self-expression.

I wanted to transport my customers back to a time when life was full of vibrant colors and simplicity, and the music was amazing - or as I like to say, 'groovy' (laughs). Coffee houses during that time were a place where communities connected and came together, and that's exactly what I wanted to showcase with Seed to Bean Coffee.

How has coffee affected the course of your life?

During my upbringing in Connecticut, there were not many small businesses that focused on coffee, and my coffee drinking experience was largely limited to Dunkin' Donuts. However, after moving to Seattle almost 20 years ago, I became fully immersed in the vibrant coffee culture, which led me to develop a discerning palate and become somewhat of a coffee snob (laughs).

It wasn't until I began traveling with my husband that my interest in the coffee industry really took off. I discovered Blue Mountain coffee in Jamaica, explored small, locally-owned cafes throughout Europe, and was blown away by the coffee scene in South Korea. It was during these travels that I realized I wanted to live this lifestyle every day and share my passion for great coffee with others by roasting and providing them with incredible tastes and experiences.

In general, coffee has had a significant impact on my life. I require it every day to maintain my sanity! I also find the coffee culture and industry to be a fascinating world that I am naturally drawn to.

Do you have plans to open shop in the West Coast?

That is indeed the plan! Currently, leasing storefronts can be quite costly and selecting the ideal location is crucial. However, once the timing is appropriate, Seed to Bean aims to become both a roaster and café. But first I would like to have a VW bus and convert it to a cafe on wheels. Just travel around the area and/or down the coast and share my coffee. Time will tell...

When you are not roasting beans or making coffee, what are you doing?

I take pleasure in watering my plants. When the pandemic struck, my husband and I had accumulated over 80 plants in our cozy 700-square-foot studio. To reduce our workload, we managed to trim down our plant collection to 25. This has made it significantly simpler to water and fertilize them.

Due to the dreary and damp weather in Washington State during the winter months, I tend to spend my time reading books. When I'm not reading coffee-related educational materials, I gravitate towards fiction books. One of my favorite authors is Toshikazu Kawaguchi. I highly recommend reading his book "Before the coffee gets cold," which is set in a café and tells heartwarming stories that are sure to tug at your emotions.

Baking is one of my hobbies, and I believe I'm pretty good at it (laughs), as my husband has yet to complain. I specialize in baking cookies, scones, and pound cakes that are simply scrumptious.

To be honest, running a business is a round-the-clock responsibility, which makes it challenging to engage in anything else these days.

What music/artists are you currently listening to? 

My choice of music depends on my mood. Thanks to my grandfather's influence, I have developed a fondness for jazz, which is why I'm currently playing Miles Davis and Chet Baker on my record player. However, on days when I need to be more productive, I like to crank up the volume and listen to Tame Impala, Earth Wind & Fire or Fleetwood Mac.

What do you want others to know about you?

Oh gosh...

I would describe myself as strong-willed, passionate, and introverted. Above all, I have an intense love for everything coffee-related, and although my role in the coffee industry may be relatively minor, I strive each day to ensure that our customers at Seed to Bean are satisfied with the quality of our offerings.

Lastly, how do you like your coffee?

Iced Americano, no cream and sugar. You can distinctly discern the flavor notes of the espresso.