By Jon Shadel
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE
Seattle is world-famous for its exported coffee brands. So it’s not surprising to see Seattle Coffee Gear expanding beyond the Emerald City. The company recently held a grand opening celebration for its Portland, Ore., store. And like its Seattle location, the Portland store features nearly a hundred espresso machines, coffee makers, and grinders for residential and commercial use. This expansion is part of a long-term growth strategy for the retailer, says Brenna Ciummo, marketing manager.
œOur plan is to open 30 stores in multiple markets by the end of 2017, Ciummo explains. Portland is the company’s first retail location outside of Washington, and the Seattle Coffee Gear team chose the city due to its enthusiasm for fine coffees. œWe picked Oregon because the town of Portland has a vibrant coffee culture and some of best locally roasted coffee we have ever tasted, she says.
œIt’s very important that we stay true to this town, Ciummo continues. And the grand opening celebrations made clear the company’s dedication to the community with demonstrations and tastings from Portland roasters. For example, Ryan Cross from local favorite Ristretto Roasters was present for the festivities, showing off the Kenya A/B roast, which has taste notes of black current, Meyer lemon and maple syrup.
œQuality and sustainability are a key components to Portland’s coffee industry, and the barista’s here are some of the most passionate you will find anywhere, says Christie Stagg, manager of the Portland store. True to the commitment to all things local, the Portland store highlights local coffee roasters like Sterling, Water Avenue, Portland Roasting, Happy Cup and Ristretto. œSupporting these local brands is one of my favorite parts of the business, Stagg says.
The company supports local roasters by promoting their coffees and providing commercial equipment. But the primary focus is on helping homeowners brew café-quality coffees. œWe are very excited to see customers get more involved in making better coffee at home, explains Victor Gehlen, CEO. He points to increasing consumer interests in premium brewing methods. œWe are seeing a growing demand and consumer shift toward locally-roasted coffee, he says. œWe believe on the equipment side this will result in a shift from capsule-style machines towards better prep methods.
Ciummo strikes a similar chord. œOur mission is to help customers find the right equipment, show them how to use it and teach them how to keep their machine in the best shape possible, she says. That’s why the store has a focus on educating consumers about good coffee-making techniques. œWe want to make brewing the perfect cup of coffee at home accessible to everyone.
Jon Shadel is a Portland-based writer and lover of fine coffees. He writes for Oregon Business and Oregon Home magazines. He’s also the founder of Rusty Bike Media, a storytelling agency helping startups, lifestyle brands and nonprofits engage their target audience. With years of experience as a barista, he loves coffee culture and is often found furiously typing in a cozy cafe.