Zoka FoundedZoka opens its first, and now flagship, cafe in Seattle’s Tangletown neighborhood around Greenlake. Installing a small roaster, coffee is hand-roasted among the cafe patrons, lending the cafe — and the surrounding neighborhood, a distinctive Seattle aroma.
Zoka Barista Wins US Barista ChampionshipZoka barista Dismas Smith wins the national title for Barista of the year. He follows up this incredible victor with a 6th place showing at the world barista championships later that year. Coffeegeek.com did a great interview with Dismas about his championship run.
Zoka continues to produce the best baristas in the country, something you’ll know and appreciate everytime you enjoy one of their creations.
Zoka Protests Seattle Espresso Tax
In 2003, a local initiative was proposed to add a ten cent tax to each espresso drink to help fund education. Naturally, it spurred some controversy and protest. Zoka owner Jeff Babcock lent a colorful presence to the protest as he staged a “Seattle Coffee Partner”on Greenlake, which is just down the street from Zoka’s Tangletown cafe. You can read a fine contemporary account here, but we thought we’d share the picture so you can catch the spirit of the time, the company and our colorful owner.
Zoka Wholesale OpensAfter a few years of roasting just for his cafes, Jeff decides to expand Zoka’s business by offering Zoka’s carefully selected and roasted coffees to restaurants, cafes, hotels and grocery stores. 11 years later, the roster of businesses providing Zoka Coffee to their customers continues to grow.
Jeff Invited to Judge his first Cup of Excellence Competition
Jeff was honored to be invited to judge his first Alliance for Coffee Excellence Cup of Excellence (COE) competition in 2003. This non-profit organization exists to work with coffee growers throughout the world to promote the very best of their coffees in international markets and to establish a universal standard of coffee excellence. Judge has judged COE competitions every year since across Central and South America and Africa. Zoka has also been buying Cup of Excellence coffee, like the recent sensation Rwanda Rwatano and the forthcoming Brazil #9 (due in May).
Zoka Single Origin Trips BeginHis growing business needing more coffee, Jeff begins “origin” trips to not just coffee growing countries, but the farms and processing facilities themselves. Getting to know the people who grow, harvest and perfect the coffee that Jeff takes such priding in roasting for his customer’s pleasure begins a new passion for using the Zoka coffee business to change the lives of all involved in growing, processing and supplying coffee. In the first few years, Jeff travels to Rwanda, Costa Rica, Columbia, Nicaragua, Brazil, El Salvador, Bolivia, Guatamala and Honduras, beginning friendships with coffee farmers and relationships with their communities that continue to this day.
Zoka UZ OpensZoka’s second cafe, Zoka UZ, above University Village, opens to serve the University of Washington Student Population.
Phuong Tran, US Barista of the YearPhuong Tran, Zoka Coffee lead trainer, won the 2005 US Barista competition. Seattle’s own Eli Sanders, who has since gone on to win a Pulitzer prize for his reporting, gives some great background on Phuong, the coffee culture in Seattle over a decade ago, and, of course, Zoka Coffee. Read more about Phuong and her championship here.
Zokacoffee.com opens for business on a screen near youGreat retail. Great wholesale. And, in 2005, a great website. Dedicated to spreading the quality of Zoka Coffee to those who can’t visit our stores, the site quickly catches fire. With a combination of an informative blog, subscriptions, merchandise and the best coffee selection on the internet, zokacoffee.com quickly becomes a great portal to our coffees and our mission.
Zoka Kirkland OpensZoka opens its third cafe across Lake Washington in Kirkland. Nestled in the epicenter of downtown at Central and Lake, Zoka Kirkland’s design is a depature from the Seattle cafes. Strikingly modern.
Zoka Expands to JapanZoka opened four cafes in Japan, bringing its meticulous approach to coffee preparation to a country known for its appreciation for exacting style and perfection in even the most basic things.
Fodor's names Zoka one of the top 15 indie coffee houses in the USWe will never get used to this. Or take it for granted. Because earning it is a lot of work, a lot of attention to detail, all day, every day, in front of customers and behind the scenes.
You don’t become the best and stay the best by accident. It’s nice to see that its noticed.
Zoka Website updated for mobile and tablet useThe internet changed everything in business. Our hometown neighbor (and host to a Zoka Cafe on their Seattle campus) Amazon.com proves that in new ways and new markets every day. Smartphones and tablets have been a further revolution in how, and where, and for what, folks use the internet. So it was past time that Zoka get its website mobile ready. In March 2014, a new, ‘responsive design’ website was rolled out that gave our mobile and tablet visitors a quality experience. So whether you want to check in from your desktop, your laptop or the palm of your hand, we’re here to serve you.