Filling Station marks 2 decades of serving up many cups of joe

Local coffee culture enjoys drinks, pastries served daily in downtown Olympia

Staff writerMay 4, 2014 

  • FILLING STATION ESPRESSO

    • Owner: Cyndi Dickson.
    • Location: 728 Fourth Ave. E.
    • Years in business: 20.
    • Employees: Eight.
    • Online: Filling Station Espresso Facebook.
    • Hours: 6 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday; 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays; 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays.
    • Advice to business owners: Always be focused on the bottom line, follow your passion and don’t get overextended, owner Dickson said.
    • Did you know? Dickson leases most of the property in the area of the espresso stand and then subleases it to five other businesses: four food trucks and a cupcake shop.

The Filling Station at Fourth Avenue and Plum Street in downtown Olympia used to be a place where you could get gasoline for your car, but for the past 20 years it has been pumping coffee, making it one of the oldest espresso stands in the area.

The business got its start in 1994. A year later Cyndi Dickson, who was between jobs at the time, bought the business.

She has a background in restaurant management and catering, so it was a natural move for her, she said. She inherited two employees, plus her then-teenage daughter went to work for her, and they never looked back.

“It’s just a nice way to start your day,” said Dickson about a business that caters to the morning commuter.

The Filling Station has two drive-up lanes for cars and a walk-up window for those on foot. The business buys its coffee from Dino’s Coffee in west Olympia, and then serves a range of espresso and other blended coffee drinks, as well as baked good and pastries, such as those made by Left Bank Pastry and Blue Heron Bakery in Olympia, or Main Street Cookies from Rainier. She also buys scones from Abby’s Cookies & Cupcakes in Olympia.

One of the station’s signature drinks is the love potion latte, made with macadamia nut, white chocolate, whip cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce.

The business took off in the 2000s, Dickson said, but then the coffee culture arrived and more espresso stands began to pop up. Her business remains busy, but competition has had an effect, she said.

And like clockwork, business typically slows in January as some consumers decide to cut back on their coffee spending following the holiday spending, or cut back because they’re trying to diet as part of a New Year’s resolution.

But others are unwavering in their loyalty.

John Skog of Olympia has been a Filling Station customer since 1994. He said he returns because of the product, the people and that he enjoys supporting a local business.

But it’s also personal for Skog because Dickson hired his daughter, then 16, to work at the business. He said his daughter looked up to the other women who worked there with admiration, and then they took her under their wing, mentoring his daughter in the process.

“To have her work with really high-quality people was just a blessing to us,” he said, adding that Dickson taught her work ethics.

“We didn’t know she could sweep floors,” Skog said, laughing.

Skog visits the Filling Station daily, usually ordering an Americano because he loves the taste of coffee and it’s lower in calories. If he gets a latte, he has to watch it, he said.

“I make sure I’m exercising that day to feel like I deserve it,” Skog said.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403
rboone@theolympian.com

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