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2017 Best of Olympia: Burial Grounds

Readers' Pick: Best Cup of Coffee

Burial Grounds is a unique coffee experience that embraces individuality and difference. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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Don't let the black exterior and the ravens migrating through it bother you. Rather, think of the visual as an entry into a unique experience.

With this expectation, it is easy to see that Burial Grounds, a coffee shop located in Olympia since 2010, is the polar opposite of a Starbucks shop.

"There's no Stepford mentality here," commented barista Heather Chambers, on a recent busy Saturday afternoon.

Her Stepford comment alludes to the 1972 satirical thriller novel, The Stepford Wives, by Ira Levin.

The story is about Joanna Eberhard, a photographer and mother, who begins to think that the submissive housewives in her Connecticut neighborhood may be robots created by their husbands.

This Burial Grounds is not.

"We are eclectic; we are open to everyone; and we embrace individuality; and we are unique."

Upon entering the shop - from the colorful listing of various drinks to the comfortable feel of the chairs and the variety of books in the shop's small library - one is surrounded by uniqueness.

With its focus on providing a welcoming environment to any and all persons who walk through the door, Burial Grounds is a coffee shop community that offers specialty espresso drinks with an emphasis on customer service, mutual respect and a community mentality.

"You gotta try one of their espressos," a guy said as he walked by.  

"They are to die for," he punned.

He had a point.

Instead of ordering a White Mocha Frappe, customers can find drinks like Rasputin Rising, Brenda's Brains (with peanut butter, chocolate and caramel), Rigor Mortis or Living Death.

"The coffee here is really good," continued Chambers.

The shop also sells Goth art, burns incense and caffeinates its customers under the gaze of Morticia Addams, taken from the 1960s television series, The Addams Family.

"And we like to draw skulls in the foam of the drink," she added with a smile.

Life imitates art at the Burial Grounds.

The name Burial Grounds was inspired by a series of graphic novels entitled Wet Moon (a fictional southern college town) by Sophie Campbell.

The writing features a large cast of characters, most of whom are in their late teens and early 20s, with many of them into the Goth and Alternative subcultures.

This is beginning to sound a bit like Olympia, a collaboration of underground music, funky shopping experiences and community involvement.

Burial Grounds is a perfect fit.

While the Goth subculture is a presence at the shop, there is another theme that is captured in a drink called a "café sospeso."

Italian for "suspended coffee" - this is a drink bought anonymously and paid forward for someone who can't afford one.

"It's our way of helping to make someone's day a bit better," explained Chambers.  "It can really help someone emotionally, and that helps the community."

Burial Grounds, 8 a.m. to midnight, Monday-Saturday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday, 211 5th Ave. SE, 360.359.4285,

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