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Stumptown Sighting in Vancouver

  • fmed Dec 10, 2009 01:39 PM
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I found some Stumptown beans (about 4 kinds) at Mr Lee's (at Broadway near Main) - an odd place considering it is a novelty store (they sell Beeman's gum, bacon chocolate bars, etc.). The bags are all datestamped.

The store owner told me that they are currently the only place in Canada that sells the beans and that reps from Stumptown drove up from their Seattle office to do some diligence prior to granting them the rights to sell their coffee.

 
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  1. Everybody has the "rights." The issue with Stumptown is that they don't ship wholesale cross border.

    7 Replies
    1. re: John Manzo

      Thanks John. Someone else at another forum said the same thing.

      1. re: John Manzo

        It's not that they don't ship wholesale John, it's that Stumptown wants to maintain quality control over wholesale accounts, requiring a roastery in each metro area where Stumptown sells. That's why we don't have cafes in Vancouver using Stumptown coffee as their roaster. It's also why there are Stumptown roasters in NYC, Seattle and of course Portland.

        Because Mr. Lee's is a small operation with bean sales direct to the customer (I'm assuming they aren't brewing any), then the account quality control is simpler.

        Here's a snippet from the NYT. "He (Duane Sorenson) is both selective about and demanding of his wholesale customers, requiring training for anyone who will handle Stumptown’s coffee and commissioning the occasional unannounced spot check. And for a long time, if a Stumptown employee couldn’t drive your coffee to you from one of the company’s two roasteries, in Portland and Seattle, you were out of luck. (Mr. Sorenson broke that prohibition in March by supplying Ninth Street Espresso in the East Village.)"

        Full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/13/din...

        In short, I'm surprised there's a wholesale account up here. It's also awesome - increases the number of quality coffee roasters available in town.

        Repartee - Stumptown is a great roaster, on the level of 49th Parallel and Intelligentsia. Fantastic would depend on the specific beans Mr. Lee's is selling and how fresh they are.

        1. re: peter.v

          It's not clear there's a wholesale account- for all you know, this person is driving down to Seattle and buying it there.

          And it amounts to the same thing. There are tons of great roasters that ship cross country- so I call shenanigans on this "quality control" story. As well, lots of roasters require that their client cafes don't brew crap and they do spot checks- hell, Fratello does that here. Finally, there are SO MANY shops that brew Stumptown in PDX that I am also calling shenanigans on that aspect of it too. I had great Stumptown at Stumptown and Coffeehouse NW; I had horrible Stumptown at a couple of other shops.

          1. re: John Manzo

            Mr Lee's has the beans air-couriered to them every couple of days. It also sounds like Stumptown contractually obligates them to throw out "stale" batches.

            It'll be a once in a while thing for me in any case. Stumptown is good...but so are JJ and 49th which are both readily available.

            1. re: John Manzo

              Call all the shenanigans you want, but you're wrong. Stumptown is a different company than the other roasters out there. The number of staff they have in Portland alone is a little staggering for a coffee operation. My information is not solely based on a little quote but on industry knowledge.

              1. re: peter.v

                I believe you, Peter, but the idea that getting Stumptown beans is a guarantee of quality because they "spot check" their clients is wrong.

                Argh, let me restate: The BEANS are superb. Superb. The cafes are not necessarily and some- many- muck up the beans in terrible espressos.

            2. re: peter.v

              Thanks for that insight peter.v. (Starbucks did the same thing in the old days.)

          2. fmed, all,

            Are these beans fantastic?

            1 Reply
            1. re: repartee

              Absolutely. Complex, and finely balanced - slightly acid, chocolate, round toffee and burnt caramel notes. (Holler Mountain Blend)

            2. Mr. Lee's is out of beans, apparently just before I arrived. They won't be ordering any more until after the holidays, so it'll be at least 2 weeks. After the initial disappointment, I was happy to browse around the interesting store. There's no sign for the place that I could see. It's at 109 E. Broadway (between Main & Quebec).