Above: Rod Dirks preps his new business Essence Coffee Roasters, 461 W. Washington St., for its soft opening last week. Left: Newly-hired store manager Ethan Jessee prepares a drink at Essence Coffee Roasters last week. “I was lucky to find hm,” Essence owner Rod Dirks says of Jessee. Sequim Gazette photos by Michael Dashiell

Above: Rod Dirks preps his new business Essence Coffee Roasters, 461 W. Washington St., for its soft opening last week. Left: Newly-hired store manager Ethan Jessee prepares a drink at Essence Coffee Roasters last week. “I was lucky to find hm,” Essence owner Rod Dirks says of Jessee. Sequim Gazette photos by Michael Dashiell

Coffee as community: Essence Coffee Roasters opens, offers ‘something to bond over’

Essence Coffee Roasters

Where: 461 W. Washington St.

Hours: 7 a.m.-4 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday

Grand opening: To be announced

Web: essencecoffeeroasters.com, www.facebook.com/essencecoffeeroasters

The logo, Rod Dirks explains, says a lot about the essence of Essence Coffee Roasters. Three solid planes represent the three principal actors: the farmer, the roaster and the customer. The bold, intersecting lines represent roads. And finally, at the point they meet, community.

“Coffee, to me, is community,” says Dirks, watching over the roasting of beans at the newly-opened Sequim coffee shop and roasting business.

Those familiar tastes and smells can help people embrace cultural or even racial differences, Dirks says.

“Something we can have in common, something to bond over,” he says.

“It’s what I wanted to do all my life.”

With a soft opening at 461 W. Washington St. on July 22, Essence Coffee Roasters looks for a larger introduction with a grand opening sometime in early August.

Dirks and his wife Megan traded life in a small town in east central South Dakota — we’re talking about less than 300 people small — for life in the Pacific Northwest, but the journey stretches even farther.

The roots for Essence Coffee can be drawn back to Dirks’ childhood: Born to a native Brazilian mother before moving to the states at age 2, he says he literally grew up with coffee.

“As far back as I can remember, I’ve been drinking coffee,” Dirks says, recalling stories of his mother putting coffee in his bottle.

By the time he was going to school she’d included coffee in his lunch with some sugar and milk.

As an adult, he held on to the coffee-making dream while working other jobs, and started small.

That meant running a shop for four hours on Saturdays out of a garage space and selling product at farmers markets and craft shows and running an online store in the city of Iroquois, South Dakota, population 266.

“I knew this was going to be a hobby (initially), nothing more,” he says.

No stranger to the Pacific Northwest, Dirks says he and Megan found the peninsula to their liking on a number of levels.

“We just loved the Northwest; we were just blown away with the climate, the people, the scenery,” he says.

Dirks had already locked in his vision for a Sequim shop when the COVID-19 pandemic kicked in.

Last week Dirks talks a bit of coffee-inspired philosophy as he works on a batch of beans. He’s constantly checking the beans for a relatively light roast, hoping to bring the best of, or the essence of, each particular bean.

As the beans roast the sweetness ebbs and the bitterness rises.

“I’m always looking for an ideal blend between the two,” Dirks says.

From the picking and washing to the bagging and transporting, the beans have been touched by many hands, many of who work for very little wage, the coffee roaster says. Making good cups of coffee, he says, honors those efforts.

While the selection may be a bit limited initially, Essence will offer an array of flavors to match taste preferences, he says.

Featured will be pastries and items from Two Spot Bakery in Sequim.

Customers can get Essence Coffee Roasterscoffee (whole bean, ground upon request), shirts, caps and mugs at the store’s online shop, as well as coffee “subscriptions” available for pickup or delivered.

For more about Essence Coffee Roasters, see essencecoffeeroasters.com or facebook.com/essencecoffeeroasters.

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