Coffee roasting

Couples work on opening a Mint City coffee roasting business in downtown Chehalis

By Matthew Zylstra / [email protected]

Life is about to get a whole lot better for fans to sit down and have their coffee with friends with the eventual opening of the Mint City Coffee Roasting Company in downtown Chehalis.

“We want to create this environment for people to come to work and hang out,” said Jason Boettner, 36.

Jason Boettner is one of four people – two husband and wife teams – who have shared an interest in getting into the coffee business. Jason and his wife Shawna Boettner, 35, live in Chehalis while Kyle Askin, 34, and Sarah Askin, 33, live in Toledo.

The four partners come from different backgrounds.

“I still do online merchandising,” Jason Boettner said.

“A modern MacGyver,” Kyle Askin, a software developer, said of Jason Boettner.

Shawna Boettner worked for Providence Medical Group while Sarah Askin ran an art gallery.

But while their experiences may differ, they all share a common goal: to make coffee people will enjoy.

Jason and Shawna Boettner own the building the coffee company will occupy, located immediately to the right of Mackinaw’s Restaurant at the Washington Hotel. The original plan of the building was not a café, but a brasserie. But plans for a brewery fell apart after a business partner died. The couple began to search for something new.

“For Shawna and I, the idea (to have a coffee business) originally came from her parents,” Jason Boettner said.

The Boettners first started thinking about opening a coffee business in 2019, when they started demonstrating the building.

“It was kind of a family vision and we decided to take it and run,” Shawna Boettner said. “We kept saying, ‘It’s going to happen if it’s meant to be.’ And then you stepped back and the stars aligned.

The “you guys” Shawna Boettner was referring to were Kyle and Sarah Askin.

Kyle Askin and Jason Boettner had grown up together in Toledo, but Kyle Askin eventually moved away and married Sarah Askin, who like Shawna Boettner had grown up in Centralia. But they finally decided to go back and get into the coffee business.

“We came back in 2020,” said Sarah Askin.

“You can thank COVID for that one,” Kyle added. “We didn’t live in that area and when we moved back our goals aligned, so we came together.”

Before joining forces with the Boettners, Kyle Askin had dabbled in coffee roasting, even creating his own brand which he produced at home, although his brand was merged with the biggest company in Mint City.

“We started talking about the partnership deal towards the end of 2021. Before that, we had just talked about it and they had already started their roasting (business),” Jason Boettner said.

Between the two couples’ aspirations for a coffee business, the group decided to work together to make their dream come true.

But their dream involves a lot of renovations.

“It was a real diamond in the rough back then,” Shawna Boettner said of their building. “We started cutting into walls in April 2019.”

Over three years later, and the band still has months to go. They said they plan to open in the fall.

The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the main reasons their building’s renovations have taken so long, but a bigger reason is the experience the four want to provide for their guests.

“We will probably have a lounge behind the counter with sofas. The roaster will be able to be seen from the back, so it will be a bit interactive,” said Jason Boettner.

Beyond the renovations inside the building, changes will also be made to the exterior of the structure. They plan to repaint the storefront, replacing the “vintage” sign with “Mint City”, a reference to one of Chehalis’ unofficial nicknames.

Although the building is a central part of their activity, the group also has other projects.

According to Kyle Askin, they are going to have an online side to their business which will allow for different ordering subscriptions for coffee beans. Their ultimate goal is to be able to have fresh coffee delivered the same day or the next day.

“We really want to do something big. We wanted to make it clear that we didn’t want to compete with other cafes in town,” added Jason Boettner.

“The full, long term vision is to have a direct link to a farm and before that we would like to fully establish what people want. Our coffee could be served in other places in the region,” said Sarah Askin.

A big part of what will make Mint City unique is its plan to roast its own coffee.

“We will have like an espresso blend, a specific roast for espresso. We will also have specialty coffee roasts. Range from dark roast to light roast. We are currently planning to produce Ethiopian, Guatemalan and Colombian beans,” said Kyle Askin.

When it comes to roasting coffee beans, the Askins certainly seem to know their stuff. They explained in detail the science behind roasting coffee beans to The Chronicle.

According to the Askins, coffee beans come from a coffee cherry, which is actually a fruit. You need to remove the fruits when they are ready. Then there is a drying process and the beans are washed in a tank like cranberries. When coffee beans are cooked and dried, they have a green color. Once you get your green coffee, you roast it at different levels to get a different flavor. The best flavor comes three days later after degassing, when you roast it creates a lot of heat and the carbon dioxide escapes.

The group believes that the coffee roaster will play a major role in the attractiveness of its business to customers.

“It will be more than coffee. It will be really nice for people to come in and have your choice of drink and have the roaster in the back,” said Sarah Askin.

The four partners will play different roles in the business. Sarah Askin and Shawna Boettner will be in charge of hiring and managing employees while working behind the counter.

Jason Boettner sees himself in a leadership role and possibly making deliveries.

“You’re our numbers guy too,” Sarah Askin added, referring to Jason Boettner.

Kyle Askin said he would be responsible for acquiring their coffee, roasting it and “creating the flavor palette”. Sarah Askin, meanwhile, will play an important role in marketing.

“Everyone is going to be marketing, but you really know better,” Jason Boettner said of the Askins. “We’re all going to know how every aspect of the business works.”

But even with all of their planning, the band still have a few aspects of their business to figure out.

They have yet to decide when exactly they will be open. They sometimes think from morning to early afternoon during their hours. They also plan to be open during the week and on Saturdays, although not sure on Sundays.

“You can subscribe to the website to get updates on this,” Kyle Askin added.

When asked what they were looking forward to when starting their business, all four gave different answers.

“I look forward to the partnership,” said Shawna Boettner.

“I can’t wait for this space to welcome people, serve them and bring it to life,” said Sarah Askin.

“It’ll be fun to have people stop by,” Jason Boettner said.

“(I can’t wait to) make a really good cup of coffee for someone,” Kyle Askin said.

For more information, contact [email protected] or visit mintcitycoffee.com.