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The Fundamentals of Coffee Roasting

I first met Scott McMartin about 2 years ago while writing a piece for Seattle Weekly about the local coffee roaster scene in Seattle. As a veteran of Starbucks from the early days, he’s seen the coffee business on its grandest scale while being charged with overseeing the purchase and roasting of 470 million pounds of coffee annually.

McMartin left the corporate world to start up his own micro-roastery in the form of  Fundamental Coffee Co. in SoDo which produces small batch roasts focusing on robust blends. The name ‘Fundamental ‘ relates to the lowest sound or tone the human ear can hear. His goal – to help people enjoy coffee without having to be a connoisseur. Roasts don’t need to be so complicated that they are only for coffee snobs and alienate people.


Scott is a self-proclaimed ‘dark roast guy’ who’s roasts focus on flavor development, savory sweetness and richness. He wanted to go back to the days of solid flavor development with savory, sweet and rich coffees. Think darker roasts with heavier, more pronounced flavors.

In his opinion, the so called ‘3rd wave’ of coffee did a good job raising awareness about origin which was a huge win. But with all the talk about ‘Single Origin’ coffees, it’s become easy to lose perspective on blends. Much like wine makers in places such as Bordeaux, roasters often excel at producing blended coffees that combine beans which complement each other to produce a superior product. This is one of the key things McMartin learned from famed coffee pioneer Alfred Peet in the early 90’s when he was consulting at Starbucks.

Summer Solstice Release

And with summer just starting up, McMartin is introducing his annual Summer Solstice Blend to customers this week. This year’s blend features exceptional coffee from East Africa and Central America with complex and citrusy notes hailing from Africa’s best growing regions. In his search for the perfect source of beans, he tasted samples from several countries including Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania.

After much deliberation, the Tanzania AA microlot from the Kilimanjaro region proved to be the best suited for Summer Solstice. With a bright lemony acidity and full body, it’s the cornerstone of the blend. In addition, McMartin tasted coffees from Guatemala, Colombia, Panama and Nicaragua and chose a microlot from a farm in Nicaragua called Finca La Pradera located in the Department of Nueva Segovia. The flavor contributed by La Pradera may be characterized as crisp, with notes of orange and natural sweetness.


The blend is rounded out by the addition of a small percentage of Guatemala Fancy SHB (strictly hard bean) coffee from the regions of Atitlan and Huehuetenango. The use of Guatemala gave the final elements of body, elegant acidity and cocoa notes he was were looking for.

Overall, Summer Solstice Blend this year may be characterized as a complex, medium-bodied coffee with layered citrusy acidity, hints of orange peel and clean refreshing aftertaste. A great coffee for your pourover setup, French Press or drip brewer. One of the reasons we make this blend every year is for making great iced coffee. This year’s version is no exception! Enjoy it as cold brew or hot, it’s going to be your favorite warm weather Fundamental Coffee.

Launch Event and Ordering

If you’re interested in meeting Scott and tasting the Summer Solstice Blend in person then head over to Mabel Coffee in Ballard on Saturday, June 24th between 10a and 2p.

Summer Solstice Blend can be ordered directly through Fundamental Coffee Co.’s website for $19 for a 12 oz. bag. In addition, Fundamental’s other blends are available on the site. Go grab a bag or three and enjoy the summer!