How could one possibly go into the new(ish) Olympia Coffee Roasting Co. in West Seattle and not leave with a pastry?
This is not a question for every coffee shop. I’ve turned down plenty of Macrina muffins in my day. But as I popped into the café yesterday for the first time, planning to grab a latte and head on my merry way, a truly stunning, lacquered red croissant stopped me in my tracks. As delicious as Besalu’s or Coyle’s croissants are, none in this town are as lovely.
Who makes these remarkable pastries? A husband-and-wife wholesale business called The Bakehouse 55 out of Redmond. Olympia Coffee isn’t the duo’s only retail outlet—you can find their croissants, scones, cookies and even Cronuts (which is actually trademarked by world-renowned baker Dominique Ansel, and they should probably consider renaming) at a number of Eastside cafes particularly, plus Sammamish and Kirkland Met Market locations as well.
Their pastries may not stand out so much in cities like New York or San Francisco, where trendy, artisan croissants—often colored, frequently in wacky flavor combos—are already a thing. But here in Seattle, this feels like you’re in on something special.
“Our inspiration is really simple at its core: we want to create pastries that we can be proud of,” says co-owner Coral Sorensen. “Anyone can make a muffin or a croissant. There is so much artistry in what we do... so much freedom. The trick is to embrace the artistry with the rigid structure of working with butter and dough, and to keep the final product looking refined. When you work with dough, you are working with something that is alive. It takes real skill to control how the product will grow, and the new shape it will take when it is baked and finished. We have to combine freedom and structure in order to do what we do, and succeed in doing it.”
Sorensen says she’s a pastry school graduate with experience in hotel restaurants and catering; her husband, Michele Pompei, has spent almost 30 years working with pastry, owning businesses (in the Miami area) and teaching baking. Together, they launched The Bakehouse 55 in January of last year, while maintaining full-time jobs on the side.
Thankfully, Sorensen says they’re now so successful that they bake exclusively and have hired employees as well—they’re looking for their own retail space, but haven’t come across the right opportunity yet. Here’s hoping they do… and soon.