Java lovers drawn to Poulsbo's Higher Groundz

Higher Groundz owner Ben Rogers offers up a warm stop at his corner coffee shop at Jensen and Front Street.  - Brad Camp/Staff photo
Higher Groundz owner Ben Rogers offers up a warm stop at his corner coffee shop at Jensen and Front Street.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff photo

POULSBO — To say they’re coffee experts would be an embarrassing understatement, because they’re so much more.

Ben and Melissa Rogers, owners of Higher Groundz, are java-brewing gurus.

The couple assumed ownership of the conveniently located little nook in July, but Melissa grew up slinging caffeine-laden goodness while working at her family’s coffee shop.

Ben was taught first hand by the masters and has a slew of coffee books at his disposal for a quick reference check.

The duo’s coffee knowledge becomes undeniably obvious while watching Ben tend the bar.

“Coffee is really an art form,” he said, turning to pull a few shots.

The Higher Groundz recipe for a grade-A cup ‘o Joe: only grind the amount of beans needed for the shots, as just-ground beans taste fresher; tamp the grinds in the porta-filter at approximately 12 pounds of pressure; start steaming the milk while the coffee’s percolating and always put a little milk in the cup before the coffee goes in.

Ben has specific reasons for his brewing brilliance.

“If it’s not tamped right the water can push up and out and grounds can get in the cup. I know what it looks like when it’s tamped right,” he said. “I put a little bit of steamed milk in the bottom to prevent burn. You don’t want the shot to sit too long or it will taste bitter.”

The Rogers’ coffee consciousness extends way beyond what’s in the cup.

They purchase their fair trade, organic beans from a local roaster, Grounds for Change, and are definitely down with composting their used beans as opposed to sending them to the dump. Ben takes the compostables home and those who’d like the nitrogen-packed soil additive can stop by the shop at day’s end to get hooked up.

“I like to go with organic and I want to help the local economy by helping local businesses,” Ben said about using Grounds for Change beans. “And the coffee is roasted within a few days of when the customers enjoys it .”

The shop on the corner offers the full gamut of beverages — drip, mochas, lattes, hot chocolate, teas, frappes, smoothies — and an unquantifiable amount of syrup selections.

Ben estimates they have 75 flavors from the ordinary, vanilla and almond to the tropical, kahlua and rum — modeled after Malibu Rum, of course.

Customers have also taken note of Higher Groundz’ product.

Lanie Patterson, a downtown employee, visits the shop five times a day, for conversation as much as coffee.

“I love Ben. His coffee is great and his conversation is even better. He’s my psychologist and barista,” Patterson said. “I just get his drip and lattes. They are made exactly the way I want. He listens.”

Higher Groundz offers local business owners and employees a 10 percent discount, coffee punch cards are available, daily drink specials for $1.99, day of the week specials, beverages, at a three-drink minimum, are delivered within Poulsbo city limits for no additional charge and if one brings their own cup, regardless of size, it’s $.50 to fill ’er up.

Higher Groundz is located on the corner of Jensen and Front streets, downtown Poulsbo, and is open Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closed on Sundays.

Perhaps even better than the coffee at Higher Groundz is the owners’ love for what they do.

“I haven’t been this happy for years,” Ben said. “I interact with people and I’m a people person and I love to talk to people.”

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