On Friday, I had the chance to drop by the new Coava Coffee location at 2631 SE Hawthorne in Portland for its grand opening. The new space is very cool and very different from Coava’s original location. Whereas the original cafe was designed more as a destination, and as a tasting room—it’s a place where people might go to find and explore exceptional coffees—the new space is designed to fit into a neighborhood and serve the people who live there. (The original spot is in a more industrial and commercial neighborhood.
Barista Magazine got to visit with Matt Brown, the director of wholesale for the company, about what Coava was looking for in opening the new cafe and what customers will find there.
BMag: How long has Coava 2 been in the works? What did you guys want to accomplish with Coava 2 that is different than Coava 1?
Matt Brown: Coava’s new Espresso Bar has been in the works since last June 0f 2013. [It] took about 4 months longer then planed, but then again most things in business usually do. With this location, we were able to build for a neighborhood. Most people don’t know that our original outpost was designed to be a tasting room; a destination for those specifically looking for an amazing cup of coffee or espresso. With our Hawthorne location we wanted to give tribute to the great neighborhod cafes our crew came from. Whether Matt Higgins at Albina, or our roaster Justin Swanson at Victrola and Floyds, or Brian Friere and I at Barista, we all have deep roots in serving folks where they live.
BMag: Will anything about Coava 1 change now that you have a second location?
Matt Brown: We have six folks working at the new location. They are headed up by our coffee educator Jon Felix-Lund and an extraordinary young man name Derrick Cicneros who has been a critical part of our brew bar.
Matt Brown: Our location on Hawthorne is rad for a number of reasons. First and foremost its in a Southeast Portland neighborhood that we really care about. Second, it’s a shared space with the folks of Hawthorne Twentysix (a super-rad apartment building). After gambling that folks would go out of their way to visit our first location we love being able to anchor a community.
Matt Brown: We love collaboration and partnership. We’re better because of the strengths of the many amazing folks around us. As stalwarts in Southeast Portland, Little T’s was a no brainer. They have rooted themselves in excellent craft and phenomenal hospitality. We love them and are honored to share what they do with our community. Cocanu was a treat we werent sure would come together. For several years chocolatier Sebastian Cicneros has used our coffee in a number of his chocolate bars, but his specialty has been his ability to blend amazing flavors. Knowing that we wanted to reach out to all of the folks who live near our new location we decided that having a mocha (or more importantly a hot chocolate for kids) was a must. When we asked Sebastian about collaborating with us he mentioned that he was already working on a single origin Ecuadorian chocolate. Couldn’t have been better timing. The results are amazing and make me specifically proud having come from the bar set by my former employers (BARISTA and Coffeehouse Northwest).