How a community gathered around Tacoma’s Campfire Coffee

How a community gathered around Tacoma’s Campfire Coffee

TACOMA, Wash — “We actually roast over an open flame campfire,” says Quincy Henry of Campfire Coffee, “which is funny because that’s how people roasted coffee for thousands of years, right?”

Henry is standing over a large smoking grill where coffee beans are slowly turning brown. The air smells rich, but this is not exactly where Henry thought he’d be ten years ago.

“Music was the dream growing up,” he says. Henry taught himself how to play, produce, rap and sing. He called himself Q Dot.

“Interscope Records had offered me a deal when I was 18,” he says. “I was in college”.

His music career meant a life on the road. Sometimes he slept in a rental car. One night Henry made a life-changing decision.

“We just had a little baby girl,” he says. “I’m sleeping in a car. In Burlington Iowa. In the middle of winter and my house back home in Tacoma is warm and my family is there, my son is there, my daughter is there, my wife is there and I need to figure out something else to do.”

That something else is Campfire Coffee. Quincy Henry and his wife Whitni both love the outdoors.

“When we go camping the first thing we do is we grind up some coffee and we brew it over the campfire,” he says.

On a long drive, the couple came up with the concept.

“We knew that we wanted this business to be a vehicle to get more people into the outdoors, people of color, Black folks especially,” says Henry, “And coffee would be a fantastic way to do it.”

They started with a handheld popcorn popper.

“And we would shake these little two-pound batches of coffee over an actual flame for hours and hours and hours,” he says.

When they tried to put the dream into action, everything went south. There were construction issues and money issues.

“We sold the house,” Henry says. “We sold cars. We moved in with my parents. We were sleeping on the floor. We gave it all up.”

The pandemic could have ended the Campfire Coffee dream. But it didn’t.

“Tacoma would not let us fail,” he says.

Campfire began selling coffee online.

“It was Tacoma that was buying bags and hundreds of pounds of coffee every week,” Henry says.

“I really feel like the campfire roasting is what makes it great,” says Kevin Johnson, who has become a regular at the shop. “It’s not coming out of a factory, they’re actually doing it themselves.”

Henry says they’re now shipping all over the world while serving fresh coffee locally.

“I always thought that being on stage was like the ultimate high,” says Henry,“ but I get that here in the shop every single day of the week.”

Campfire Coffee | 1554 Market St #101, Tacoma, WA 98402 | Open Mon – Sat from 7AM to 4 PM.

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