Vintage roaster turns out 21 distinctive brews

Oak Harbor residents can now get a taste of locally roasted coffee, with beans extracted from a vintage roaster.

Roast Master Mike Donohoe finishes a batch of the Vienna roast after several minutes of careful watch. The beans will be packaged for Buzz Bomb

Oak Harbor residents can now get a taste of locally roasted coffee, with beans extracted from a vintage roaster.

Local businessman and high-end coffee maker Mike Donohoe launched Honeymoon Bay Coffee Roasters Aug. 9, on SW Bowmer St., across from Papa Murphy’s pizza.

The company will cater mostly to commercial distributors and local businesses that sell and serve coffee to the public. And a small cafe is open from 7:15 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday, for people to sample the 21 specialty brews.

Donohoe said he enjoys the social interaction that happens around a coffee cup. For many, coffee is a constant companion, and his own admiration for the beverage began in childhood.

At his grandparents’ house on South Whidbey, a 4-year-old Donohoe was served “cowboy coffee,” or coffee that was boiled on the stovetop, which he’d fill with cream and sugar.

“It wasn’t the best extraction,” he said, laughing.

During his Navy service in Oak Harbor, Donohoe and his wife Katie visited an old coffee roaster in Bellingham.

“It just had that smell that makes you weak at the knees,” Donohoe said.

With a rekindled passion, he purchased an espresso machine and made free brews for his friends on base.

After six years serving as Roast Master and Director of Roasting for Mukilteo Coffee, Donohoe decided it was time to pursue his passion for small batch European style coffee roasting.

The process involves slow, hand-roasting with a great attention to detail.

“In places like Italy, they roast for the flavor not the production,” he said.

Donohoe’s 1979 roaster was built by German engineers, and was imported from London. The roaster’s high quality metals, such as cast iron, are rare in today’s market because of their expense. All 21 of the company’s specialty coffees are roasted here and sport unique names such as Buzz Bomb, Dead Man Walking and Moonstruck.

He said the names are part of a collaboration between friends and family that relate to the Navy, the sea and characteristics of the coffee.

For their grand opening last Saturday, Donohoe had a relaxed day of chatting with locals and giving out free pastries and drip coffee. The roaster is positioned in the center of the store for people to watch the process.

“Oak Harbor is a great place for coffee. There are no local roasters here, there’s a young Navy crowd that enjoys coffee and it’s an alternative to Starbucks. I think it will be successful,” Donohoe said.

The store is also open to customers Thursday through Saturday, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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