One of our biggest dreams came true when we opened an espresso bar in the Rocky Butte community! We had always envisioned this location (8505 NE Fremont St Portland, OR 97220) as a gathering space. We talked with Bennie Moore who pastors Consumed by the Harvest church about using their space when they aren't, and he was all for it. Wow - how simple was that? We were impressed with his willingness to work with us and partner together.
Opening during the Covid pandemic has limitations, but it gave us an opportunity to start serving coffee even without it all figured out yet. We've been able to meet neighbors and connect with people we hadn't met yet and hear their dreams for the space too.
In May we approached the church that meets two blocks from James's house in Madison South about opening an espresso bar in their space when they aren't meeting. Well that conversation progressed faster than we even expected, so we had to jump on preparing the space! With chose to prioritize opening soon to begin serving our neighbors during a time many of us don't leave our neighborhood as much because of Covid-19. Our friend Dennis Reed was invaluable in helping us put everything together!
As we prepare to open an espresso bar, a pop up coffee event at Bryan's brokerage, Rarebird Real Estate, was a great event to introduce people to our coffee. James shared photos from his trip to Honduras, and Bryan shared the vision for opening coffee shops in overlooked neighborhoods in East Portland. Nathan and Charrell Edwards-El served pour over coffee samples so everyone could try our various roasts.
While James and Sheryl were visiting coffee farms and learning Spanish in Honduras, their daughter Lily and Rocky Butte Coffee Roasters co-owner Bryan participated in the Prescott Elementary Winter Bazaar in the Parkrose neighborhood. There was a great community turn out. We had a lot of conversations and gathered that people in Parkrose are ready to have their own independent coffee shop. Someday!
We had the pleasure of competing in the Fourth Annual Cascadia Roaster's Competition at Buckman Coffee Factory in Portland. Roasters from all over the western US competed, and we placed in the top-5 in the judges' voting! Both James and Lily Helms entered. How it works is all of the contestants receive the same green coffee beans without any information. Roasters might have an idea of how specifically they want to roast a certain bean based on where it's from. This levels the playing field and certainly favors more experienced roasters who have a developed palette and are systematic in their experimenting. The coffees are brewed and cupped for the judges, and they score the coffees on a detailed rubric. Their top-25 make it to the event day when the general public gets to try 5 coffees at a time and vote for their favorite. We learned more about other facets of the industry from sponsors Genuine Origin and Roast Magazine. We look forward to competing again!
We were invited by The Groves Church and the brokerage Bryan works at, Rarebird Real Estate, to serve pour over coffee for special events. The pour over method produces some of the most flavorful coffee, and it's what gives some Portland coffee shops a reputation for having slow service. It takes time, but the quality is so worth it! We had fun serving and connecting with people.
If you'd like to invite us serve pour over coffee at your small event, write Bryan Atkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whew what a ride! After receiving enough votes online from our video to advance to the final round of the Business Impact NW annual competition, we (Bryan, James, Nathan) drove up to Seattle to talk about our vision for our community development through coffee. We had a great time meeting people and being inspired by other community-minded businesses (and walking around nervously waiting to give our presentation). We didn't win the big prize, but we did win Best Veteran Owned Business (James served as a medic in the Army). It was a great learning experience for us and helped forge our team!
For our Business Impact NW 2019 competition video, we were so fortunate to pull out the big guns! Andru Morgan (Seeing God's Beauty Media) captured our neighborhood so well on video, helped us cut to the chase in our script, and prompted us so our narration was as conversational as possible. It's not easy having your voice recorded when you're not used to it! We really enjoyed working with him, and you can watch the end product on YouTube.
Rocky Butte Coffee Roasters helped found the Rocky Butte Farmers' Market by providing the seed money and instigating the conversation in the neighborhood. We're so proud of what has come together! The market launched on July 13, 2019 and drew over 1,000 people its first day! Rocky Butte Coffee Roasters even sold out of cold brew coffee on nitro. This is a great group of folks and the reception speaks to both the quality of what they've put together and the need in our community. This is only the beginning of more great things to come.