FROM BERKELEY TO BAINBRIDGE: A PNW SPECIALTY COFFEE PIONEER
Pegasus founder David Dessinger discovered how flavorful coffee can be as a 1960s regular at Peet’s Coffee in Berkeley, CA.
Upon relocating to Bainbridge Island, WA in the 1970s, David was frustrated to find ‘no good local coffee’ options. He eventually resolved to buy and roast his own beans with the help and advice of the maestro himself – Alfred Peet – who soon became his mentor.
Months of trial and error on his boat in Eagle Harbor led to a breakthrough, and David imported a pre-WWII Danish roaster, rented a waterfront garage at Winslow Wharf, and began roasting commercially as Pegasus Coffee. In December 1979, David threw open the roll-up door of the garage for the first time. The delicious aroma of his hand-roasted coffees was effective advertising, and long lines for samples stretched out the door.
As Pegasus’ reputation for high-quality coffee spread around Seattle, it’s founder ordered himself a bigger roasting machine and nurtured a bigger vision:
to bring a classic European-style coffee house to the Pacific Northwest.
MAKING HISTORY: LAUNCHING PEGASUS COFFEE HOUSE AND COFFEE BAR
In the spring of 1980, Dessinger expanded into the front of the ivy-covered building where he had been roasting, and Pegasus Coffee House was born.
From the start, Pegasus offered espresso, cappuccino, cafe au lait, brewed coffee, tea and freshly baked pastries. Like the coffee houses of Europe, it was a home for lively discussions, live performances and local art, and quickly became a thriving community hub.
Then, with Bainbridge buzzing, Pegasus looked across the Sound at Seattle's high-rise office buildings and imagined another way to expand. If Island commuters loved Pegasus' coffee at home, wouldn’t they also enjoy it at work?
In late 1983, in the heart of the financial district at the historic Dexter Horton Building, Pegasus again made history as the very first specialty coffee bar to open in downtown Seattle.
For the first time, Seattle's on-the-go working professionals could grab a high-quality cup of coffee on their way to the office or as a break during the busy workday. Our quick-serve Coffee Bar was a hit, and helped inspire like-minded coffee companies both near and far.
STRAIGHT FROM THE SOURCE: SUSTAINABLE FARM FRIENDSHIPS
With home and on-the-go offerings for coffee-lovers created, Pegasus then looked overseas to better connect with the farms and farmers that grow, harvest and process the coffees we buy, roast and serve.
Perhaps the most striking example is Pegasus’ long-term partnership with the coffee growers of Ometepe – an island formed by two volcanoes rising out of Lake Nicaragua. A single visit by Bainbridge resident Kim Esterberg in 1986 generated a suitcase of samples to be approved by Pegasus, followed by the first of thousands of pounds of direct trade coffee beans heading to the US to be roasted in the newly-expanded Pegasus facility on Day Road.
In the 30+ years since, Ometepe has become Bainbridge’s Sister Island, and those beans have brought Ometepe’s unique coffee to Pegasus, running water, schools, and college scholarships to Nicaragua, and a free flow of exchange students, adult travelers, and love between two islands that were once worlds apart.
Pegasus is proud to continue partnering with the Bainbridge-Ometepe Sister Islands Association to this day, along with other Direct Trade relationships with farms and cooperatives in Nicaragua and Guatemala. Details of these relationships are available on our Partners page.
PEGASUS PRESENTS: 40 YEARS OF ART PATRONAGE AND COMMUNITY LOVE
Beyond our sustainably sourced, hand-roasted coffees and delicious house-made food, Pegasus has always been more than a business. Our team has also focused on creating safe meeting spaces for communities and supportive homes for local artists.
Since 1980, thousands of musicians, poets and speakers have graced our window stage, and hundreds of artists have enlivened our walls. They help make Pegasus a special kind of coffee company – somewhere unique where our friends and neighbors share free performances with names of national and international fame.
BACK TO THE FUTURE: THE NEXT 40 YEARS
As we enter our fifth decade in business, we are once again lifting our eyes to new horizons of growth and opportunity.
After nearly four decades of using our original packaging design, we celebrated our 40th anniversary with a revitalized look that provides customers with more information about the quality of our product while honoring the history of our company.
For Pegasus fans around the world, we also present our new e-Commerce store on this site. Now you can have our coffee shipped right to your door! You can also sign up for our subscription service and purchase fresh new Pegasus Coffee gear, all from the comfort of your home or wherever you’re connecting with us.
We have recently opened our third location inside the Bainbridge Museum of Art and are looking forward to continuing to grow. As we expand our brand, we remain dedicated to the same principles that have guided us since our founding: sustainably sourced, hand-roasted coffee and a commitment to providing welcoming spaces for our community.