Whether it’s an upside-down, extra-dry cappuccino with five shots of espresso or a simple mug of black coffee, coffee drinkers know their morning cup sets the tone for their whole day. It’s more than routine. It's a ritual.
Lucy Page, owner of Santa Lucia Cafe in downtown Centralia, knows this as well as anyone. When Page joined forces with KelseaMae Wade, owner of Flourish Cafe and Wade Made Foods, the duo had one mission in mind: maintain the legacy of quality Santa Lucia coffee while adding a stellar menu with options for every kind of diet.
Today, there’s no shortage of coffee shops and stands in Lewis County. Fifteen years ago, this wasn’t the case. Page and her family, with the simple motivation of making an excellent cup of joe, started roasting coffee at home with a modified popcorn machine.
Neighbors and friends soon came knocking, seeking the delicious beans.
It took a full day to roast half a pound. As demand increased, Page and her former partner developed a roaster capable of large batches. It sat in their basement and was ventilated through their chimney. After a few house calls from the fire department, it was clear the operation had grown beyond a hobby.
The city soon called Page. Much to her relief, they weren’t scolding her for the smoke. The downtown space kitty-corner to the Fox Theater had become available and they wanted to encourage her to move in.
Fourteen years later, with Santa Lucia firmly established as a roastery, chocolatier and go-to Centralia cafe, COVID-19 reached Lewis County.
Page’s sister was one of the county’s first cases. Because of her exposure to her sister, she closed Santa Lucia and went home to quarantine.
By the time two weeks were up, the state had closed nonessential businesses. To keep paying the bills, Page started coming into the cafe alone to roast coffee and sell through their website.
This time offered her a chance to reprioritize.
“You really get to distill down your life and go, ‘Wow, do I really want to be busy like I was before? Do I really have time to be selling lattes 30 hours a week?’ No. I need to be with my children. I mean, you know, they’re growing up,” Page said. “What am I going to fight to keep and what am I going to let go? And for me, it was keep the roastery, let the cafe be something different.”
That’s where Wade came in. They decided that Santa Lucia coffee would stay, but they would add on brand new Flourish Cafe as a place for Wade to cook and serve her unique and delicious food, allowing Page to step back from running a kitchen and making lattes. The businesses have individual licenses and Wade and Page still own them separately, but they coexist behind one counter.
Before Flourish, Wade was a fulltime mom and gig baker who attended South Puget Sound Community College for culinary classes. Santa Lucia’s display case often featured her baked goods.
The pair started the merge in October. After months of renovation throughout the building, it was time to close the cafe in mid-February. Wade gutted the kitchen and built every piece to meet the versatile needs of the two businesses.
Page, working her several other jobs, told Wade that she wasn’t going to be able to devote a significant amount of time to the renovation process. Fine by Wade.
“In her defense,” Wade said, “I’m a steamroller when I get onto a project, so it’s better just to get the heck out of the way.”
Flourish Cafe’s meals and bakery items accommodate many dietary restrictions as part of Page and Wade’s dedication to making the space as inclusive as possible.
The menu includes keto, paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free and zero refined sugar options.
Eating healthy, as Page puts it, requires “understanding the ingredients list — you don’t have to be a scientist to read it.”
And it helps to know where the ingredients come from. Foods at Flourish are locally sourced as often as possible. Produce regularly comes from nearby farms including Newaukum Valley Farm and Boistfort Valley Farm, both of which Wade said will soon feature Wade-written recipes in upcoming Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shipments.
“Our honey comes out of Adna. We use Black Sheep Creamery products. We like supporting other local businesses and we like knowing where our food comes from, and that it’s handled with the same care that we like to use in our homes and kitchens,” Wade said.
But customers need not worry, because the care they put into Flourish Cafe does not mean neglect of Santa Lucia roastery.
Page laughed and said, “I’m a coffee snob, and I needed to keep making good coffee that I actually want to drink. And KelseaMae makes the most amazing food and now our customers can get the best of all of it.”
They reopened in late April, and the strong community turnout for their soft reopening was a good reminder of why Page got into this business in the first place.
“When we first opened our space, it was about good coffee and creating a place to build community,” Page said. “When we had the huge flood, people came here. When we have snowstorms and the power is out, people come here … Our people, our community is what’s important to me.”
Santa Lucia Roastery and Flourish Cafe plan on hosting a grand reopening in the summer.
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Address: 202 S. Tower Avenue Centralia
Online: On Facebook, Flourish Cafe @wademadefoods and Santa Lucia Roastery @santaluciacoffee