Trail Youth Coffee shop’s new bean roaster is a ‘game changer’

The nonprofit Trail Youth serves over 225 different teens each month.

There’s a new roaster at Trail Youth Coffee Home, and it’s not simply an impressive machine — it’s a “game changer,” said Tonya Guinn, executive director of the nonprofit coffee shop.

The sleek white and black Bellwether Coffee Roaster, located in the back corner of Trail Youth’s shop in downtown North Bend, allows the shop’s teenage baristas to roast 18 pounds of beans per hour. That’s more than four times the previous roaster.

For months, Guinn said, the shop had been turning away business, particularly for wholesale and custom bag orders, because of limitations with the old roaster. The extra coffee will be a major boost for the shop as it aims to become self-sustaining and continue to provide safe a space for youth.

“We never thought we’d be able to buy a machine like this,” Guinn said of the $62,000 roaster purchased using a grant from the Murdock Charitable Trust.

After four years of grant support from Best Starts For Kids, a King County initiative aimed at improving the well-being of youths, Guinn said the shop did not receive support for a fifth year, amid a record number of applications to the program.

Trail Youth is left with only two grants — one from the city of Snoqualmie and one from the city of North Bend. Those grants cover the cost of supplies, excluding things like rent and salaries of its 5-person staff. In the absence of the Best Starts grant, Guinn said the shop has become more reliant on its coffee sales.

Trail Youth serves over 225 different teens each month, some of them multiple times, offering one of few spaces outside of school or homes where teens can spend time, free of charge. Each month the shop provides 3,400 free drinks to its youth visitors. They also offer barista training to about 40 youth, as well as game nights, art classes, peer counseling and a recovery group.

Right now, Guinn said they’re giving away more drinks than they are selling. It’s a sign that youth are taking advantage of the program, but it also means they’ll need more funding, she said.

For those looking for a cup of joe, Guinn boasts that Trail Youth is the freshest around. It is the only place in the Valley that roasts its own coffee onsite, she said.

And most importantly, she adds, “we do it alongside youth.”