When our clients look at neighborhoods, we often hear the same requests; that they want to be able to walk to a restaurant or coffee shop. St Johns Coffee Roasters is one of PGR's favorite coffee shops, and this week we chatted with the owner and coffee roaster, Mount Burns.
Question 1. How did St Johns Coffee Roasters come to fruition?
St. Johns Coffee Roasters began in March of 2008. A traumatic life event stressed the importance of not knowing what tomorrow may bring so we better do something we love and have a passion for.
I had been a "coffee freak" for most of my life and it had been suggested I do something in the coffee industry. I found a small, used roaster on Craigslist, purchased it and installed it in what had been my darkroom in the basement of my home.
I set upon teaching myself how to roast coffee and neighbors began smelling the roasted coffee and coming to the door to ask if they could purchase the roasted coffee. A few months later, we began doing some farmers markets and we were discovered by Wholefoods, who helped shepherd us through the process of selling wholesale to large grocery stores.
Approximately one year later, a larger roaster was purchased and a commercial space was acquired and soon thereafter, New Seasons became a customer.
Since that time, business has continued to grow and we are now at our two-year anniversary of the opening of our Tasting Room.
Question 2. Can you tell us about the transition from the farmer's market to the brick and mortar space?
The transition from farmers market to brick and mortar was natural. Farmers market customers continually asked where the coffees could be purchased during the "off-season" so it was a natural thing to refer them to either Wholefoods, New Seasons, or the roastery.
Question 3. Have you run into any permit or bureaucratic challenges for the space?
Permit or bureaucratic issues. Don't get me started. As much as Portland professes to be "small business friendly". I have found there to be layers and layers of bureaucratic issues, most of which were encountered and addressed during the remodel of the shop for opening the Tasting Room.
Question 4. We think St Johns Coffee Roasters facilitates community. Why do you think that is? What other factors do you think help foster neighborhoods/ community?
I believe we facilitate community by being family friendly, dog friendly and just overall, friendly. I am adamant about my staff not projecting arrogance or negative attitudes. I strive to provide a welcoming environment to everyone because that is the type establishments I'm drawn to and enjoy.
Questions 5. People love your coffee- tell us about it!
I believe our coffee is special for a variety of reasons. First of all, our coffees are exclusively organic and fair trade. Most roasters will have a couple organic coffees in their offerings but not exclusively. We ONLY do organic and fair trade because we believe the absence of chemicals makes a difference not only in the taste of the coffee but on the global impact as well.
Our coffees are roasted in small batches which allows us to maintain optimal control over the roasting process, assuring each coffee is roasted to its optimum profile.
We use a process called post-roast blending which means each component of each blend is roasted separately to achieve its optimal profile BEFORE being blended. This results in more complex and interesting blends. This process takes more time and is more laborious but we believe it is the RIGHT way.
Bonus Question 1. How has St Johns changed since you opened the shop?
St. Johns has changed dramatically in the past 3+ years. More and more people have moved into the neighborhood and as a result, there are many new residential developments as well as business developments that did not exist previously.
Bonus Question 2. Goals?
To change the world, one cup at a time and to squash Starbucks. Just kidding. Our goals are simple. To continue what we're already doing but continue refining things to create an even better experience for our customers and continue growing.