The great folks at Stumptown have supported our efforts with Barista Magazine since day one—I remember way back in 2004 when I first told Stumptown owner Duane Sorenson about wanting to start a magazine for baristas, and he assured me it was a great idea. His confidence in our idea—which back then a LOT of people thought was pretty nuts—helped give me and Ken the cajones to dive in and start our own business, and make it all about coffee and the people who make coffee. Sorry—didn’t mean to go on about us here, because this is supposed to be all about the really amazing chapter in coffee history that was made today in Southeast Portland, Oregon, when Stumptown Coffee Roasters hosted an opening ceremony for its stunning new Headquarters, which includes a hot-doggity-dog gorgeous roasting area (complete with a 90-kilo holy moly!), quality control center, employee showers and locker room, expansive bike parking, fancy pants reception area, conference rooms up the wazoo, enough office space for Stumptown’s many awesome admin folks, and more, plus rec room, hang out space, a training area for both wholesale and retail, and these amazing docks that will change the lives of the roasters and production dudes—who have spent years hefting bags of green from the curb on SE Division into the production area.
OK, a little more nostalgia: one of the things (and there are many things) that I have loved about Duane since I first met him was how much he valued the work of baristas (way before that was considered cool), and the way he took care of his employees (he made sure everyone on staff had healthcare before he started paying himself, and before he gave himself health care).
So it wasn’t surprising when Matt—who did the talking for Stumptown at the podium this morning—thanked all of Stumptown’s employees, over and over again, for their patience, hard work, loyalty, and general awesomeness. Matt also thanked the zillions of people who played a role in the building of this incredible new headquarters, which is located in Portland’s Southeast Industrial Area (Duane wouldn’t think of having Stumptown’s world headquarters anywhere other than Southeast Portland), including the Energy Trust of Oregon, which presented Stumptown for a check for more than $200,000 toward the cost of the technology, which has allowed Stumptown to retire the afterburner it had been using.
In fact, the new 37,000 square-foot space, owned by Venerable Properties, is greener than green: a highlight is a new regenerative thermal oxidizerused to burn off emission particulates.
Frankly I was dumbfounded today when I visited the space. The first time I was over there was a little less than two months ago, and Matt made me wear a hard hat as he walked me around the cavernous space, side stepping buzz saws and countless dudes working on the floors, the windows, doing demo, wearing safety goggles. I was flabbergasted when Matt said it would be operational and open for business at the end of August. But damnit if they went and made it happen.
Congressman Earl Blumenauer—who is himself a hobby roaster—State Treasurer Ted Wheeler and Mayor Sam Adams all turned out to speak at the event this morning, and it was simply awesome to see all these suits—granted, they’re Portland-style suits, which means they eat organic and ride their bikes to work—celebrate the great work of a passionate punk rocker who loved coffee and the people who drank it way back in 1998 when Duane started the company with one cafe, a record player and a stack of albums, and a two-group La Marzocco.
The company had been split between the office folks who worked in a cozy renovated house around the corner from the Division Street cafe, and the roasting staff who worked out of a building at 34th and Division down the street. In fact, the new restaurant that Duane’s building out right now, an Italian place to be named after his oldest daughter, Ava, is in the same building as that old roasting operation. I can’t say I’m not going to miss hearing about some summer BBQ taking place at “the house.” “Can you come over to the house? We’re drinking beers in the backyard.” I’ll miss hearing that.
But in the same breath, I can’t say enough about the new Headquarters. I always wondered what Stumptown would eventually do when it really outgrew the house—I thought to myself, how could Stumptown ever have an “official HQ” and have it still feel like Stumptown? Well they do, and it does. The exterior of the place has the same look and feel of a Stumptown cafe—industrial but warm with all the incredibly beautiful reclaimed wood. The ceilings are high, the strange paintings on the walls are left intact, the floors are original, though now they gleam.
The roasting staff has been here working for a whole week already. The upstairs is still pretty empty, but Matt says the admin staff will be moving in in the next few days.
Today was totally awesome. I had such a warm feeling watching it all go down, seeing all the Stumptown staffers puffed with pride about the company they love so much. After the speeches were over, crowds mobbed the entrance and rushed in to tour the space, and grab complimentary cups full of Stumptown’s famous cold brew along the way. I held back, just watching it all, and then Duane emerged from the mob and ambled over to me, and gave me one of those big bear hugs he’s famous for. “How are you?” he asked, as if any news I might have could come close to what was happening at that moment, there in SE Portland. I just smiled and shook my head, and said “let’s have beers soon, OK?” Duane smiled back: “Most definitely.”