In our hometown in Illinois, there is this great apple orchard and it is tradition to go there every Fall for their hot, fresh donuts, fresh out of the oven apple pie, and cider. Each and every year that we have been here in Washington, we find ourselves missing that particular apple orchard. This year, we decided to see if there was anything similar nearby. We found Lattin’s Country Cider Mill was about 10 minutes from where we live. In the three years we have lived in WA (and in the two years we have been in this home), we had never been there. We decided to change that!
On Friday, October 7, our son was off school and my husband did not work. It was the perfect day for a family outing … minus the brief morning drizzle and overcast skies. Nonetheless, we were very excited! We arrived to Lattin’s in no time around 11am.
It was not busy, so there was not a lot of hustle and bustle. We roamed around looking at their adorable farm animals and taking pictures of our kids enjoying themselves. One thing kind of stood out to me: no one had greeted us or welcomed us to the cider mill. Do they have employees? If I passed them, I probably mistook them for other guests. Other than the animals, there was no “attraction”. Maybe it was too early in the day but there were no giant bins of apples out to purchase. Instead, all we saw were corn stalks for purchase and a selection of small pumpkins (they also have a pumpkin patch in the premises).
Inside the big red barn, you can find different organic vegetables, honey, and pies … in a refrigerator case. I was impressed with their cider selection. Besides the original apple cider, they also had flavors like strawberry cider, which my two kids chose to take home with them. We walked up to the bakery case to see their selection of donuts. There were plenty to choose from! Plain, sugar, powdered sugar, cream filled, and pumpkin. We chose to try 6 donuts: 2 plain, 2 powdered sugar, and 2 cream filled. Much to our dismay, none of the donuts had that excitingly “fresh”, just-out-of-the-oven taste. Honestly, they were a little bland. We also assumed the cream filled donuts would be cider donuts with cream … they are not. They are regular donuts with cream. The same kind of donut you can find at the Walmart bakery. Disappointing.
I think the most disappointing was when we actually interacted with an employee (when purchasing our donuts), I can’t honestly say she was overly friendly. Since we had never been there before, I asked if the donuts were made there. She replied with an irritated, “Yes”. I understand she may get asked that 1,000 times a day but I guess if it were me, I’d be a little more jolly and enthusiastic about the product I was selling. Maybe even throw out a smile or two. Maybe a thank you?
As we were deciding to leave, we couldn’t help but notice that Lattin’s was finally bringing out large crates of apples for purchase. If you’re wondering around the barn area, please be aware of the forklifts bringing out the apples. We saw two elderly women have to quickly (as quickly as elderly folks move…) move out of the way from a forklift in reverse with an operator who didn’t seem to care she was moving her forklift right into the path of visitors … and right in front of the door of the barn (where the main traffic is?!). Yikes!
We walked back through the farm back to our car, again, never seeing or interacted with another employee other than the girl who sold us donuts. The employee who seemed like she was either having a bad day or disliked her job. When we got loaded into the car, we couldn’t help but feel disappointed. What a let down. It didn’t seem like a “happy” place that we’d jump at the chance at taking our kids to again. Maybe it was just a slow day, maybe it was just an “off day” – but first impressions can be everything. Sorry, Lattin’s Cider Mill, you made a really bad first impression.
Good thing: The cider was delicious! Both the original and the strawberry. No wonder it is award winning cider!
Side note: If you go on the weekend, be aware that you need to pay to park your car. Is it just me or is that a bit ridiculous? This isn’t Seattle. It’s a cider mill that is open year round. I don’t think you’ll find me paying $3 to park my car in a muddy field just to go into a place that I’m expected to spend more money.
We went with high expectations of finding a fun, Fall themed place to take our kids and perhaps start a new Fall family tradition. Instead, we walked away disappointed.
If you’d like to check it out for yourself, you can find them at:
9402 Rich Road Southeast
Olympia, WA 98501-9558