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The Bakke Collection

Is the result of a life steeped in coffee.

You never know where or when the course of your life might shift due to a random encounter.

Kent Bakke’s adventure into the world of coffee began when he was in the restaurant business in the late 1970s, opening up a soup and sandwich place called Hibble & Hyde’s with friends in Seattle’s Pioneer Square. Waiting on the bar in the café space was a large old-fashioned espresso machine. Not knowing much about espresso but intrigued by the dramatic looks and mechanical mystery, Kent started experimenting with the machine to see how it worked. He soon became the self-proclaimed espresso repair tech of Seattle, which at the time had only a handful of machines in the whole town.

That machine, a Victoria Arduino you can see here at the museum, was the beginning. The taste of good espresso and the workings of the machines themselves drew Kent deep into the coffee world. He began importing espresso machines from Italy and soon found himself in Florence with his business partners meeting the Bambi family at La Marzocco. This connection led to a decades-long leadership position at the company, and a La Marzocco outpost in Seattle, including a factory here in Ballard.

Kent’s initial trips to Italy sparked his passion for collecting the machines that embodied the history of coffee. When he asked the Italians where the old espresso machines were, they simply gestured to the scrap heap. Already so much history had been lost. So it began with a few machines, which quickly became dozens, growing over the years into the comprehensive collection housed at the museum today.

Here are a few highlights from the collection.

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