Kaffeeklatsch, the Coffee Shop & Bakery in the Hearts of Lake City
Enjoy Lake City (ELC) visited Annette Heide-Jessen at her Lake City Way bakery and coffee shop to talk about social gatherings around coffee, cake stung by a bee, and the power of working together for a better future. Annette was recently named to Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkans’ newly formed Small Business Advisory Council, which will provide policy recommendations and recommend resources to help small businesses thrive amid Seattle’s current growth and affordability crisis.
And don’t miss our Mystery Diner’s
“Rapid Restaurant Review”
following the interview!
ELC: How did you get into your own business?
I was born and raised in Berlin. I had two degrees as a registered nurse and a pediatric nurse.
When I got to the States, I was 27 and I had to refresh my degrees. I got an associate’s degree, then ran out of money, so I couldn’t do it. Then I volunteered at a local hospital and I did not like the system here at all! The way it’s run, the hierarchy, the 20 people that go through a room with one patient and I thought “I don’t want to do this”.
I tried a number of jobs and ended up at Columbia City Bakery as the retail manager. I was laid off in 2009, could not find a job for the life of me. My boyfriend Brian had also been laid off from his job in construction. We were thinking “what do we do now?” We started planning Kaffeeklatsch and opened the doors in 2011.
ELC: Was it difficult to start?
There was a really cool program at the time for women starting businesses and I had a great mentor. I did a lot of on-line research, went to the library every day. I was writing my business plan and would hand it to my mentor, she would correct it and send me back home just like in school and I would start over. She put in a big word for us everywhere, telling people we were really motivated and “you need to give them money” and that’s how we got our small business loan.
ELC: How did you pick the name Kaffeeklatsch?
Kaffeeklatsch means “social gathering around coffee” in German. I just loved that name. But at no point did I think I would attract German customers. Then as we opened, all of a sudden there were these Germans showing up wanting German products! And I was like I don’t have anything German! We’re not bakers remember? One of us builds houses and I’m a nurse who sold bread. We said ok, we’ll make some German stuff. I had a German baking book and I’d say “Brian, I need you to make that”. I would translate the recipe, show him the picture and he’d make it. Brian baked a lot at with his mom growing up and he knows how to works with his hands in construction so it was easy for him. Without his skills, it would never have happened.
Very quickly we realized we needed other things to make more money. So we started offering sandwiches, and from there just added on. About a third of our products are not Germanesque. Some of the recipes come from our families – the banana bread from Brian’s grandma, the traditional cheesecake is my mom’s recipe.
ELC: Who are your customers now?
We still have a lot of Germans coming in and lots of regulars. That’s the fun part! You have people coming for a long time, you see the kids growing up. There’s one customer who always brought her daughter in. Now she’s a teenager and she’s still coming in. She’s not playing in the kids’ area anymore but she brings her friends and they do homework together over a hot chocolate.
ELC: What’s your personal favorite from your menu?
Definitely the pretzels… I never get sick of the pretzels. I don’t think people know we sell pretzels. We sell pretzels to 9 restaurants but we make only 12 pretzels a day for the house.
ELC: What are your most popular items?
We sell a lot of cinnamon rolls and we have killer biscuits.
We have bienenstich – Stich means sting, bienen is the bee. It’s a cake that was stung by a bee. It’s a sweetened yeast dough filled with a nice vanilla pastry cream. Then we have a topping of butter, almonds and honey, and the honey is why it’s called bienenstich. A very German pastry that you can’t get anywhere else.
We do a bostok, which is kind of like a French toast with almond paste and almonds on top. It’s a twice baked dough with an orange blossom type of syrup on it.
We also do soups. We have certain people who come in for certain soups and no one will let us change the soups. Every Wednesday is chili, Tuesday is split pea. I also have a lentil bacon, a potato soup and a beef stew on Fridays.
ELC: What are a few of your favorite Lake City restaurants?
I really like 2C Thai. I also like Toyoda Sushi for a special treat. Korochka is a little bar that has great appetizers and Russian food. Pho An has great spring rolls.
ELC: You give back to the community with cleanups and fundraisers. What’s your inspiration?
I think life is very challenging and we have to get together and make it work. That’s how I grew up. I have never had that “me, me, me”. I always love to share. And then there’s that nursing background with a full-blown helper syndrome!
ELC: What would people be surprised to know about you?
I think a lot of people would be surprised to know I am a nurse. I love care-giving. It’s very fulfilling, very rewarding. I worked in the hospital’s surgery, ER, and pediatric unit and did home care.
ELC: What do you like best about Lake City?
I like the possibilities of Lake City. It’s pretty raw. Compared to other neighborhoods, there’s lots of opportunity here for growth and making it a great place.
I also love the diversity. A customer said to me, “look around – look at the people. There’s not two people
alike here”. The place was packed and he was right. Little kids, old people, every color you can imagine from every different background. It’s very cool and very rare but that’s what I like about Lake City. We’ve got everyone here.
ELC: What are Lake City’s challenges?
We have a state route going through the core. We don’t have the foot traffic that other neighborhoods do. People drive through, they don’t stop. We should have a 20 mile per hour core.
ELC: Anything else you’d like us to know?
I’m very passionate about the work Lake City Future First is doing and happy that I can be part of an organization that is a big change maker in this neighborhood.
People want to move into an area that’s livable, playable, workable, where you can do everything. Walk around, meet people, go to the playground, a full circle of things that are available. We have some of that but many people don’t know about it. In Columbia City, they got together to make a nice core, a huge business association, art walk, jazz festival and all sot of things. I know we can do that here. I think Lake City Future First is the group that can make it happen, we already are.
But nothing can happen without the community. The community is us and only if we all get together can we make changes. My business wouldn’t be here without the community. I have to thank Lake City for my success.
Our Mystery Diner recently raved about the blueberry tea and biscuits with butter and jam. Here is her Rapid Restaurant Review: “Coming in from the rain, there’s a sense of ease as you lift your eyes and take in all the products Kaffeeklatsch has to offer. Chalkboards telling you about their different options, the scent of freshly baked goods in the air, fellow customers enjoying what they’ve bought for themselves – you stand before the display case wondering what you’ll have. The staff asks you warmly if you have any questions, and you just shake your head. You don’t quite know what you want yet, but you’ll be coming back to try everything that you can. “
Kaffeeklatsch is located at 12513 Lake City Way NE, Suite H, Seattle WA 98125
Open Mon-Fri 6:30 am – 5:30 pm; Sat & Sun 8:00 am – 5:30 pm
(206) 462-1059 Kaffeeklatschseattle@gmail.com