There’s a ‘Herkimer Coffee’ in Seattle? What’s the story?
A listener sent me a message recently and suggested I use this brain buster for the Hobika Free Money Question of the Day, a contest we run every morning giving listeners an opportunity to win cash from attorneys Joe and Andrew Hobika. The question: "In which state is 'Herkimer Coffee' located."
I asked the question and sure enough, the contestant gave 'New York' as their answer; he was wrong. It turns out, the correct answer would have been Washington. That's because Herkimer Coffee Roasting Company has three locations in Seattle.
Herkimer is a pretty unique name; a historic Upstate New York village along the banks of the Mohawk River and Erie Canal. Herkimer was named after General Nicholas Herkimer who was an American Patriot militia brigadier general, who died of wounds after the Battle of Oriskany, the bloodiest battle of the Revolutionary War, on August 16, 1777.
So, what's the back-story? Why 'Herkimer' Coffee? Employees of Herkimer Coffee say the story is not that interesting. I disagree.
Herkimer Coffee was founded in 2003 by Mike Prins. He based the business philosophy on his roots, simple dreams and values that run deep. He wanted it to be a place where relationships are more important than profit and the only palpable marketing plan is to make an authentic, high-quality product;" that according to the Macrina Bakery blog, written by the distributer that supplies Prins with his donuts. They published a blog about Herkimer Coffee on February 8th praising the brand, the product and its business model.
So, where does the name 'Herkimer' and the iconic Herkimer bridge photo come into play? It turns out, Mike's dad, Tunice David Prins (T. David) was born in Herkimer, NY in 1930 to Tunice and Harriet Prins. The family lived in Herkimer until 1936. Mike wanted to name his new coffee in honor of his dad and the place he was born. He adopted the name and then incorporated the iconic Trolley Bridge into his logo, which runs over the West Canada Creek on the eastern end of the village.
Does the Prins family still stay connected to Herkimer?
"My dad has returned to Herkimer several times over the years," Prins said. "He left Herkimer with his family when he was 6 years old." The elder Prins, who goes by the name T. David Prins, became an educator. He worked at the University of Michigan, and then at the University of Washington; which was the reason the family moved to Seattle. Mike Prins said he's never been to Herkimer, but hopes to visit someday.
I asked Mike if anybody ever comes into his stores in Seattle to ask, "What is this? I'm
from Herkimer, NY; where did your coffee name come from?" He said it happens all the time. "People are just intrigued," he said. "We also ship orders all over the country" so people from Herkimer can experience the coffee that bears their name. Prins said they roast the beans and then immediately ship to the destination so in just three to four days, the coffee arrives fresh at your doorstep.