Batter Chatter: Interview with Kath Mitchell and Winter Niemeyer of Samudra Yoga, Coffee, Tea and Treats
CakeSpy Note: This interview is a special guest post from Cake Gumshoe Kris, who also happens to be a pretty swell artist!
Cakespy: I realize that you must be tired of this question but, for people who are being introduced to Samudra Coffee, Tea , Treats and Yoga, what made you decide to include yoga as a part your business?
Winter: For us it was a perfect combo because we're into both food and yoga. Mom (Kath) has been interested in yoga for the last six years and has been a certified yoga instructor since 2006. We'd always talked about opening a bakery/coffee shop together. Some people don't get it at first but, for us, it melds together really well. It seemed really natural.
CS: Another thing that I feel sets you apart from other bakeries and coffee shops is your commitment to sustainability. Could you elaborate on what you've done to your shop to make it green?
WN: Structurally all the surfaces inside were repainted with zero VOC paint. The walls in the yoga studio are insulated with recycled denim. All of the yoga mats are recycled rubber and all blocks are either buckwheat filled or cork.
Many of the light fixtures and the tiki bar reception desk are repurposed as are all of our chairs.
Our pastry case was donated to my dad. It's over 100 years old and originally from a country store. We redid the entire thing spending many 12 hour days sanding it before eventually repowdercoating it.
Additionally, all of our baking equipment is energy efficient. Our coffee, teas and syrups are organic and fair trade certified. During the summer we had tons of local produce, apples, pears, berries.
All of our "to go" materials (coffee cups, napkins, etc) are all compostable and made of recycled materials. Except for the coffee cup lids but we are looking for a source.
CS: Let's get to the sweet stuff: do you have a favorite item that you love to bake?
WN: Marionberry breakfast bars are my own recipe and they're pretty popular. I could make bacon cheddar scones in my sleep! They're a family recipe and I've been making them forever. Cupcakes are fun too. I can ice a cupcake like no one's business!
Kath Mitchell: It's not a favorite item but I just love coming in to bake when it's dark, the moon's up and I make myself my first coffee in peace. It's meditative to me to get up that early in the morning. It's very quiet. I really love it!
CS: What are some of your most popular baked goods? Can you recommend a beverage to pair with them?
WN: Our bacon cheddar scones are usually gone by noon! I'd recommend a cup of coffee with one of them. It's kinda' like breakfast, hearty and like a meal unto itself. People get mad if we don't have bacon cheddar scones!
Irish carbomb cupcakes go well with a glass of milk. You don't want anything heavier than that.
KM: Maybe a regular irish carbomb? Or just drop the cupcake in a glass of Guinness!
WN: Three of our most popular cookies are salted oatmeal cookie with white chocolate which I'd pair with a plain vanilla latte,
KM: or a cup of tea!
WN: honey molasses cookies with chipotle. If you're gonna go spicy, I'd say go with a Costa Rican latte with cinnamon and chipotle.
Oh! And our ginger bread biscotti. I just had that with a capuccino. It's fantastic to dunk it!
CS: Has owning a bakery changed your view of baked goods? Are you able to enjoy, say, a slice of pie or a cookie or do you find yourself professionally critiquing it while you're eating?
WN: I'll be honest, I'm not gonna' just go to the grocery store for cake but I've never been that way. When I'm working, I don't find that I have sweet tooth any more. I now crave something like a carrot raisin muffin or granola. I eat our granola every day.
We still love going to Seattle bakeries. We fully appreciate what other people come up with that's new or different. It's fun to see what other people make!
KM: I've never bought baked goods unless it was from an awesome place. I really appreciate it when it's done well. You have to pay attention to detail and have some enjoyment in what you're doing. It really comes through. People can't believe that we make everything here on site and we're, like, "where else would be make it?!"
CS: Do you have any advice for someone who is considering opening their own bakery?
WN: Don't skimp on ingredients! We always knew from the beginning that we would have to pay a little more for high quality chocolate and different butters or for soy products for our vegan pastries. But you have to make that commitment. Even though it'll be a little costlier, it works out in the end.
Also realize that you'll make mistakes. Don't take it too personally when things go wrong. Next time you'll know better!
Don't be afraid to diversify a bit. We've had good luck with special orders. Lots of people have been ordering from our bakery for birthday parties and get togethers which is something that we didn't expect!
Facebook and other social networking sites are also important. It's great to see people say "That's my fave!" when we post a picture.
CS: You've recently hosted both a Green Drinks event and an Environmental Film Festival. Do you have any more upcoming events?
WN: September was insane! We're trying to catch our breath before the holidays.
But speaking of holidays, on Thanksgiving we're having a free yoga class with a canned food or monetary donation for the food bank. You can stick a turkey in the oven and take yoga for an hour and half before the holiday madness sets in!