Vendor Spotlight: Walnut Nitro Coffee
The first question that comes to mind when you think of Walnut Nitro Coffee might be: Are there actual walnuts in their nitro cold-brew coffee? The answer is no, but there’s a story behind the name.
Douglas Larsen, co-owner of the company, explains, “Walnut is a slightly confusing name and people often think we make coffee with walnuts or something like that. We don't, but it’s a great conversation starter. We bought a house with a walnut tree and we eat tons of walnuts and we also have had nut-named businesses in the past so it all just made sense at the time.” He adds with a laugh, “No walnuts were hurt in the making of our coffees.”
Douglas and his team have been serving their smooth cold-brew nitro coffee at the market for just over a month now. However, the process of starting and operating a coffee-based business has been percolating, so to speak, for a while.
“My wife and I have both owned small businesses in the past when we lived in New York City. I’ve worked in the design industry for about 10 years now and have been the head of many large projects that had the workings of a small business as well. I love learning and love to connect with people so this seems like a sweet spot for us,” Douglas says.
Douglas spent well over a year working on Walnut’s nitro cold-brew recipe and tasted about 30 different roasts throughout the company’s long brewing process before he and his team chose Caffe Cocina of Poulsbo and Olympia Coffee Roasting Company of Olympia. “Washington has the best coffee roasters anywhere and we source our beans from two of them to bring you the finest quality nitro cold-brew coffee. Currently we serve it cold but soon we’ll have a hot option as well, when the weather begins to cool,” Douglas says.
Walnut Nitro Coffee is definitely a family affair. “My wife Stephanie does a ton for the business behind the scenes. She takes care of our two-year-old son Axel and my cousins are co-owners as well.” Douglas explains.
The city of Bremerton also plays a key role in the company’s ethos and operation. “The second we decided to move to Bremerton we knew we wanted to add to the local community in a way that we hadn't before in previous business ventures. New York City has such a tight culture of business, community and everyday life that we wanted to bring more of that to Bremerton. We LOVE coffee and we wanted to make a unique coffee experience that wasn't already here. Coffee is our community builder,” Douglas says.
Another key ingredient to Walnut’s success, besides using the finest locally roasted beans, is the support of friends and neighbors. Douglas explains, “Your people are your biggest resource. Family, friends and even our new neighbors have all been so great. Basically anyone we have taken the time to share our dream with and given the opportunity to be a part of our journey has helped us out far more than I expected, emotionally and physically.”
What advice would Douglas give someone considering starting a small business in our area? “This is a great place to start a business and there are a lot of opportunities out there. Pick something you are willing to work at and something that brings people together because then you will have plenty of support and energy to keep moving in spite of the inevitable challenges. Get a mentor, make sure their first response is always supportive and then they come in with their insight. If you find a person like that, become their best friend!”
The future holds exciting new developments for the company. For example, Walnut will soon be selling out of their own electric-powered coffee truck. “His name is Wallie and he’ll be driving all around Bremerton spilling coffee into people’s cups all while being the cutest darn tricycle you ever saw. We are just waiting for the process of approval to be complete,” says Douglas. “We're also planning to bottle/can our coffee before too long and at that point there are a few stores that we’ve been talking to,” he adds.
While Douglas still works a full-time design job, Walnut Nitro Coffee is his consuming passion. “We moved with the idea that this was going to be our thing. The full-time job is the side hustle, Walnut is our job and we give it everything. I work from home and am fortunate to have a flexible schedule so I can see my family and work on Walnut whenever needed.”
The most rewarding part of owning and operating Walnut Nitro Coffee? “That’s easy. It's when there’s a customer who has never tried nitro cold brew or maybe is skeptical. But once they try it, you can see their eyes light up and they’re shocked at how refreshing and smooth it is. I am confident in it but I'll never get tired of seeing other people truly enjoy our coffee,” Douglas says.
The next time you’re at the market, enjoy a cool, rich, refreshing cup of Walnut Nitro Coffee. We think you’ll be nuts about it too.
Thank you Stephanie Ray with Precision Sharpening for volunteering to write up our vendor spotlights!