Husband & wife team, Rafael & Mercedes Carrabba roast coffee behind his violin shop on W Galer Street in Seattle. Mercedes owns a coffee shop in Pike Place Market, Ghost Alley Espresso. Rafael has a world renowned reputation for restoring and selling fine stringed instruments. They have combined their talents to bring fresh small batch roasted coffee to Queen Anne.
"Counterbalance" is a reference to the original counterbalance trolley that operated on Queen Anne Hill. The roaster is located close to that hill.
It is also a term to loosely describe the style of roasting Rafael & Mercedes are pursuing. They source one bean from one farm and roast to different degrees before blending. Currently they are working direct with a farm in Costa Rica to create a medium-dark roast for espresso or home brewing. The final cup is a balanced full bodied coffee.
Mercedes Carrabba first started working in coffee in high school on Bainbridge Island in the late 1980s. She worked as a barista through college. She is a child of the Pike Place Market, having grown up around the vendors, crafts community and many food entrepreneurs. Mercedes opened her own coffee shop in Pike Place Market in 2012. In order to stay competitive and successfully employ five people at her shop she decided to roast her own coffee. Counterbalance was born in April 2017 after a year of planning for it with her husband.
Rafael Carrabba is a professional luthier and varnish maker. Many of the skills he has learned in his career lend themselves well to roasting coffee. For example; understanding color and moisture after years of working with wood has given him a unique understanding of how to roast and blend. His son, Alex, also helps roast coffee for Counterbalance Roasters. The roaster is located behind Rafael Carrabba Violins.
Together Rafael and Mercedes seek out unique coffees from around the world. They travel to farms to develop personal relationships with the farmers they buy from. They prefer dark roasts, roasted just into the second crack and seek out unusual origins like the Galapagos Islands, Timor, Tanzania and Sulawesi.
By working with restaurants, their goal is to bring their single origin coffee roasts into the hands of local chefs for desert menus, meat rubs and sauces. You can buy their coffee at Ghost Alley Espresso in Pike Place Market and at Rafael Carrabba Violins on Queen Anne.