Caffe Appassionato

Caffe Appassionato Low-Acid Coffee and Jesuit-Inspired Java

Caffe Appassionato was co-founded by Tucker McHugh, Business Management and Marketing ’71. The independent, family-run operation is celebrating its 31st year in the coffee business. Among its specialty products: a Jesuit-inspired line of Ignatian gourmet coffees.

How it all started and the business problem that was being addressed

‘In 1990, my partner, Phil Sancken, and I founded Caffe Appassionato Coffee Co. In those early years, there were just four other local Seattle roasters including Starbucks and Seattle’s Best Coffee. The specialty coffee Industry was still in its infancy.

Our approach was to create a low acid coffee which wasn’t offered by the others. It took us a couple of years to figure it out, but we finally perfected our roasting style to match that criteria. Today, Caffe Appassionato produces smooth tasting, aromatic coffees that are low in acidity and don’t upset your stomach, cup after cup.’

How Caffe Appassionato differentiates itself from other coffee roasting companies

‘We feel that there is no need to chase the retail coffee bar market with branded stores as there are many in that arena. Rather, we are focused on wholesale to restaurants, hotels, espresso bars, and the grocery Industry.

We have a trademark license program for those that want to open retail stores branded Caffe Appassionato locally and internationally. We have licensed stores in Seattle and in Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Amman, Jordan.Caffe Appassionato roastery in Seattle

We also have a presence in the OCS Industry (Office Coffee Service) where distributors feature Caffe Appassionato to those companies who wish to serve it to their employees in their place of business. Our website is also increasingly busy selling coffee to those who wish to purchase it for home consumption but are not near our roastery. We feel these strategic Industries suffice for a viable coffee roasting company to compete in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.’

How the coffee business has changed since he started and the impact of COVID

‘As with any business there are obstacles we have had to overcome. National economic recessions and raw bean cost fluctuations have been our issues. As we enter contracts that need to be honored for a period of time, these fluctuations attack our cash flow. In each case, we huddle with our staff and are fortunate to have had many loyal employees who agree to fewer shift hours and/or a freeze on wages in order to get through those periods.’

On the inspiration behind the Ignatian blends

‘When we started our private label program for companies looking for branded coffee, I decided to create St. Ignatius Gourmet Coffees. Having been taught by this great Order all of my spiritual and academic life, including my college days at Seattle U, I wanted to celebrate the Jesuits and thought it would be fun to offer these coffees to Jesuit schools and their alums as a unique gift and consumable product.

A bag of Caffe Appassionato Ignatian blend coffeeOver the years, we have used some of the proceeds to further the needs of the Jesuit Retirement Fund for the West Province. In fact, my siblings and I, for 20 years, hosted the Annual All Saints Day Luncheon honoring the NW Jesuits at brother Mick’s FX McRory’s, where all proceeds were donated to the Senior Jesuit Retirement Fund. The Jesuits have a special place in the McHugh family’s heart.'

Find the Ignatian blend, organic coffees, and other delights at the Caffe Appassionato site. Movie buffs: Name the movie which had the line 'They call it a Royale with cheese' in the coupon code box and you'll receive 15% off your order (while promotion lasts).

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