Coffee machines hiss and skulls oversee the room, while patrons enjoy hex-shot Zombie Defender Lattes, discuss pop-media, the latest Marvel movie, or sit in the work-friendly atmosphere grinding away on their studies. The setting is Burial Grounds Coffee shop; an art-centric caffeine stop, and safe space, nestled on 5th Ave., in the heart of downtown Olympia. The aesthetic is largely based on the eye of the beholder. Some would say goth, some goofy and nerdy, some collegiate, some artsy and eclectic. BG offers a line of unique coffees, teas, and pastries; the real appeal however comes from the welcoming atmosphere, school friendly-late-night hours and great conversation enjoyed by its’ devout regulars.
BG unquestionably lends itself well to a collegiate audience. Desks line the walls with high-speed internet access, and plenty outlets for everyone. As an added bonus, BG closes at midnight, making it unique in Olympia as one of a few establishments where patrons can stay late to work, but do not need to be 21. “BG is like no other coffee shop,” says owner Mara Curry. She cites wanting to create a stark contrast from the clean-lined architecture, professionally marketed, corporate setting found in mainstream coffee-shops today.
Their clientele is vast however, and it is by no means just a college kid hangout. Patrons of the arts, students, and professionals alike enjoy making BG a regular stop in their day. “I keep trying to figure out what the uniting factor of Burial Grounds’ customers is,” says long time employee, manager, and part owner, Jacqui Martin. Regular at the shop, Nani says the appeal has a great deal to do with the employees’ candid demeanor and their no-nonsense attitude. Martin says, “There’s not a whole lot of put on; we’ve definitely dealt with a whole lot of crap over the years, but overtime you realize you have agency and independence, allowing you to put your foot down if someone’s being a jerk, and not tolerate it.” This support contributes to the safe-place atmosphere which BG is very proud of. “Yeah, we’re super (very) human, we try to relate that to people, we totally accept people for their human qualities.” says Martin. Its’ part of the attraction to BG, that in every sense, coffee to employee, one receives a different taste than the norm. The semblance has been shaped over the years from humble beginnings to what it has become today.
Burial Ground’s recently moved from the corner of 4th Ave. & Washington St., to their current home on 5th Ave., which offers significantly more space and a beautiful covered sitting area out front. “The old shop was a collective fever dream, everyone imagined it, but it never really existed, and here we are, this is where we’ve always been,” says Martin. At its’ conception BG started fairly small, and it was a day-to-day calculation to keep the doors open. Curry remembers leaving sometimes several times throughout the day to buy one bottle of syrup or a gallon of milk, which then would need to last a few days. “It definitely was a startup, and so little,” says Curry. The shop, employees, and clientele have certainly found their lane overtime, however. BG is ranked 4.5 out of 5 stars on Yelp, and an impressive 5 out of 5 stars on Trip Advisor, with a headline reading, “Best coffee house in the USA!!!”
Today, BG offers monthly artist features, a book section with light reading, comic books, eclectic drinks not found anywhere else, and an all inclusive no-nonsense atmosphere. From its’ humble beginnings, through their journey of identity, to now seeing a dream become reality, Burial Grounds is more than just a coffee shop; it is a genuine Olympia success story. Familiar, yet, different enough from the general conformity to make it entrancing. BG is the encompassment of how an idea can be brought to reality through hard work, good people, and hex-shot lattes.
Burial Grounds Coffee Shop
211 5th Ave SE
Olympia, WA 98501
8 am – 12 am