Alas, earning my coffee did not pay off. I did have cash on hand to buy a beverage from this cash-only establishment, but Herkimer's only non-dairy option is soy (which I am predictably allergic to). So I put aside my right to calories that could replace the ones I burned while walking up the hill, and ordered a single Americano. This earned me a serious side-eye from the barista, who informed me that all their drinks were doubles. Which I'd read on the sign, hence the specification of "single" in my order.
Of course, all of that stated, would you care to guess what they were dripping? Two coffees. A Sumatra, and a Honduras. HA! Two coffees I routinely dislike. It's like they were waiting for me!
Why exactly Herkimer Coffee is called Herkimer Coffee is unknown to me, but I believe it is named after either the city, the village, or the county of Herkimer in New York, all of which are named after Nicholas Herkimer, a German American militia colonel killed (by wound infection and inexperienced surgeon) in the Revolutionary War. I think this ought to make it a heroic and honorable sort of coffee, so it's good to know that their buying centers on purchasing organic, shade grown coffees sold at higher prices which allow better pay for workers. They also take a great deal of pride in their coffee at a retail level: One of the baristas was kind enough to explain why they pull "double" shots (which, in volume, actually amount to about a regular shot and a half, but don't qualify as ristretto, due to a complicated process involving low-to-high water pressure introduction that I don't understand at all).
I sampled both the drip coffees, and had my sort-of single Americano, and here's what I've got to say:
The Honduras, for a Honduran coffee, was pretty mellow. It had an easy finish, smelled nicely floral, and tasted a little like tangelo to me. Not my favorite, but a nice Honduran coffee.
The Sumatra, I couldn't drink. Which brings me to why I dislike so many Sumatran coffees. Typically, you'll hear them described with words like "earthy" and "herbal," which I'm convinced is just a nice way of saying, "May have accidentally been cross-pollinated with a cannabis plant." Some Sumatras are more understated than others, and while Herkimer's Sumatra is by no means the strongest I've encountered, it was one of the most out-spoken in a while. The good of this is that it has prompted me, via Google, to find out that Cannabis is indigenous to South (not South East) Asia, and also that "cannabis curry" was ruled legal in Indonesia in 2007. So even though I thought the coffee was terrible, at least it turned out to be educational.
Last, but not least: the espresso possessed similar sweet citrus characteristics to the Honduras, but in my estimation, it was thin. (In body, not texture.) A friend of mine sent me to Herkimer because he loves their coffee, and was telling me how great the crema is, and since he knows his coffee, I have to give the benefit of the doubt to it and say that maybe my "sort of single" shot somehow destroyed their whole espresso system, because the crema on my coffee was fragile and boring.
So this coffee's not my cup of tea. And that's fine. I don't especially love the seating oddness of the location, or the musical background that may or may not have resulted from Amazon's "New Seattle Indie Bands" list, either. So I can pass.
I do love Phinney Ridge, though. It's charming. Even if it is all uphill.