Grab a coffee and a treat, then relax inside this open airy café. At Kaffeklatsch on Lake City Way, the comfortable vibe suggests slowing down, staying awhile, and connecting with good friends.
Owner Annette Heide-Jessen began her German bakery 10 years ago. It happened during the recession of 2008 when both she and her partner, Brian, found themselves suddenly laid off and unemployed. Heide-Jessen worked in the restaurant and bakery industry while her partner made his livelihood in construction.
While Brian eventually went back to work building homes, Heide-Jessen remained unemployed. Finding it challenging to locate work - she decided to create her own. It was a blessing in disguise, for out her struggle, Kaffeklatsch was born.
The term kaffeklatsch is a German word meaning a “gathering around coffee”. At the turn of the 1900s, it was common for men in Germany to socialize inside their neighborhood public house. Women of the time were not welcome in public houses so the German Hausfrauen (housewife) developed her own social gathering. Small groups of women began gathering in their kitchens to sip coffee and chat. The trend caught on quickly and soon became known as the kaffeklatsch.
The custom of socializing around coffee remains. Today the gathering has moved outside the living rooms and into neighborhood cafés such as Heide-Jessen’s.
“The community gathers here,” she says gesturing around to the bakery counter and occupied tables. “Connections are made and meetings are held here, all over a real cup of coffee and a treat served on real plates.”
She uses a coffee blend specifically made for her shop called the Lake City Blend. The local coffee roaster, True North, created it to provide a full-bodied, smooth coffee that compliments the German baked goods. They succeeded. It truly is a great cup of coffee, especially when paired with a breakfast pastry or the morning paper. If a good book is more your style and you read German, Heide-Jessen has a bookcase full of all her favorites.
The “treats” as she calls them range from traditional German sweets to decorative sugar cookies. One popular item is the extra-large, high-quality pretzels. She sells these wholesale to other restaurants in town, they are that sought after.
Her breads stem primarily from family recipes and the baked goods she grew up with in Berlin. There is a Kornerbrot, which means seed bread. It includes the goodness of sunflower seeds, flax, poppy, sesame, and pumpkin seeds.
The Kasten-mischbrot makes a great sandwich bread while the loaf of Landbrot, with it’s mix of rye and white sourdough reminds Heide-Jessen “a little bit of home for this is the traditional German daily bread”.
The Kaffeklatsch is currently open with 50% occupancy for indoor seating.
“We never closed the café,” says Heide-Jessen. “This year of the pandemic has been tough on us. We shortened the hours until we received a PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loan, which allowed us to keep everyone working and the doors open.”
After a moment she added, “ This is our neighborhood hub, a third-place, and home-away-from-home for my customers. I couldn’t close.”
Another arm to her business is her line of traditional breads called Breadwares. This is the wholesale side to Kaffeklatsch, which her son Justus helps her run. With Breadwares they serve other restaurants and food vendors throughout the Seattle area. This became the lifeline that helped bolster Kaffeklatsch during the shutdowns.
Kaffeklatsch represents a vital center for this Lake City neighborhood as does Heide-Jessen herself. She is an activist working for the small businesses in this tight-knit community. The coffee house is her baby and her livelihood. With coffee percolating and the breakfast rolls fresh from the oven, Kaffeklatsch is the perfect place to gather around a table and gossip.
Looking toward the future, Heide-Jessen plans to expand the wholesale line of breads. But most of all she looks forward to building community once again. All over a cup of coffee.
Kaffeklatsch is located at 12513 Lake City Way NE. They are open Tuesday-Sunday 8:00 am - 4:00 pm with both indoor and outdoor seating.
Disclaimer: While some products, services and/or accommodations in this post were provided without charge, all of the opinions within are those of the author and the Seattle Refined editorial board.