Wednesday, November 28, 2012

portland micro roasters fueling the local economy (p3)

Photo by Jelani Memory
As the weather turns colder and wetter and the days shorter and darker, it’s time for Portlanders to cozy up at coffee shops with a hot beverage loaded with caffeine. Therefore, it’s also appropriate to spotlight Portland's coffee culture, specifically our local micro roasters who are small businesses producing small batch, crafted coffees and sharing them in their own coffee houses as well as cafes across town.

Why frequent corporate coffee chains when every quadrant of this city features not only an abundance of local coffee shops but also locales where you can see your beans roasted before they become your brew?

With more than 30 local micro roasters in Portland, here are a couple more local alternatives to Starbucks that support local and in turn energize our economy through collaboration.

Sterling Coffee Roasters + Coffeehouse Northwest

Making his home in NW Portland, micro coffee roaster Adam McGovern is the man behind two compact coffee shops: Coffeehouse Northwest, which began in 2007, and Sterling Coffee Roasters, which opened on Valentine's Day 2010 as a 50-square-foot stand next to Trader Joe's on NW Glisan Street. But as the grocer looked to expand, McGovern teamed up with friend Jeremy Campbell, who owns the equally petite M Bar around the corner, and moved into a newly devised collaborative location on Father's Day 2012.

While we've loosely used the word "collaboration" in this series to signify local businesses and individuals supporting one another, whether that's selling local baked goods or featuring artists on coffee shop walls, McGovern likes to "reserve the word ‘collaboration’ for times where we work in some equal capacity with another business or individual to produce a good or service we both offer at a retail level, or at least to which we both supply branding.”

With that in mind, McGovern and Campbell’s shared space is truly collaborative and decidedly unique. Sterling is open each morning and afternoon while M Bar takes over each night.

“Because the space is so small,” McGovern explains, “Sterling will set up and break down the entire service area, except for the espresso machine, every day.”

From a handshake to a sublease and lease negotiation, the process “ultimately strengthened our commitment to working together,” McGovern says. “The lease gave us a chance to consider every aspect of the partnership and to codify the ways in which we'll support each other.”

Another Sterling collaboration includes the Coffee Roasters United project “where several small roasters pool buying power to purchase micro-lot coffees each could not afford on their own,” McGovern explains. Partners include Portland coffee shops and roasters like Red E Café, Case Study Coffee, Seven Virtues, and Clive Coffee.

But, there’s one other venture that McGovern would also consider, by his definition, a collaboration—and it has nothing to do with coffee. Sterling recently launched a “line of men's and women's ties, designed for us by Crispin Argento of PINO,” McGovern says. “We hope to continue collaborating with designers to produce apparel and accessories as we grow.”

Read the rest on Sterling and Coffeehouse Northwest plus Coava Coffee Roasters on Neighborhood Notes.

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