Susan Buckley has been on a quest for the best cup of Joe for 11 years.
The 21-year Sequim resident discovered she needed something else along with her former business, Bramble Cottage Antiques. That’s when everything began to brew.
She sampled coffees from around the world and acquired a newfound taste for quality coffees. Buckley
operated Blue Star Espresso in Carlsborg for three years but closed it eight years ago because her leased land sold.
Now, she’s venturing back into the coffee business with Suzon’s Coffee Lounge, a sit-down, upscale shop for the common man offering espresso, French press brewed coffee, cold or hot loose leaf teas, smoothies, chai, Italian cream sodas and handmade lemonade.
“I felt this community needed a place to go like I enjoy when I go to Seattle,” Buckley said. “I feel I’m trying to teach people there’s a better coffee. There’s a lot of bad coffee served in the world, but it doesn’t have to be.”
In the span between shops, Buckley has refined her skills as a barista/artisan but feels she’s still scratching the surface.
“Espresso is the most complex coffee preparation, containing around 1,500 chemical substances of which 800 are volatile,” she said.
“It’s not something you want to hurry up. It’s all handmade and showing what you know through how you are doing it.”
Buckley said she doesn’t plan to stop learning about the craft.
The coffee lounge uses Herkimer, an artisan roaster out of the Seattle area which buys green coffee from small farms that grow it in naturally shaded areas with no chemicals.
“I think the coffee is marvelous,” Buckley said. “I think they are a great company.”
With espresso, Buckley said, coffee changes with humidity and temperature.
“If it’s a foggy, damp morning, coffee is wonderful, but if the sun comes out, you have a different coffee and have to adjust your grind,” she said.
Not too much else is required, Buckley said, but other factors are out of the barista’s control such as the condition of the beans.
“If it’s pouring out, then it’s basically drip coffee,” she said. “Espresso should be dripping out. Consistency is sort of syrupy.”
The lounge’s most popular drink is Art in a Cup or a Rosette made of espresso and milk.
Mochas are another popular drink along with a lot of Americano and cappuccino. Mochas and hot chocolates use hand-ground, 65-percent Colombian cocoa butter that Buckley feels is a good mix between sweetness and not being bitter.
She said some customers followed her from the Blue Star even after several years.
“I love the person part of the business. That’s what makes it for me,” Buckley said. “They are wonderful. I’ve had an absolutely wonderful response from customers. They love the products, service and ambience.”
“Suzon’s,” pronounced “Sue-zawn,” comes from an old customer who would pull up and in a distinguished way greeted her as “Suzon.”
“It made me feel like I needed to be upright and proper,” she said.
Naming the business Susan’s or Sue’s, Blue Star again or Blue Heron, after a statue in the building, didn’t register with her.
“I wanted something with certain words that make me want to feel like I want to act,” she said.
Her antique business is closed but she plans to continue selling tableware such as coffee and tea sets, candlesticks and cups and mugs. Buckley said she would expand her products as business increases and from customer demand.
Buckley said through opening Suzon’s, she wanted something with upscale products but a laid-back environment.
“I’m trying to raise the bar with products, atmosphere and service,” she said. “I think I’ve created it.”
Reach Matthew Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org.