Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on April 13th, 2007 at 9:16 am
In Portland, there's an undeniable link between coffee and bicycles.
And now there's Courier Coffee and its wide-eyed owner, 26 year-old Joel Domreis. I caught up with Joel the other day to find out more about his budding business.
Joel has been drinking and thinking about coffee for most of his life. A native Portlander, he grew up in downtown coffee shops. In elementary school, he and friends would hop on the bus or their bikes and search for coffee places that would keep their cups full,
"Back then, it was all about getting cheap coffee and free refills. Coffee shops were just something to do...they were cheap and easy to hang out in."
But Joel's love of coffee went far beyond just hanging out. He started to think he'd like to own a coffee shop some day and his interest in coffee grew. As a college student at University of Oregon (in Eugene), he would buy quarter-pound bags of specialty beans.
After college, Joel moved back to Portland and worked at several different coffee shops and bakeries. Two years ago, he was in between jobs and started roasting beans in his own back yard,
"I'd roast for a few hours, then go and research coffee on the Internet for a few hours."
Soon, he started bringing samples to his friends at downtown cafe, Half & Half. They described Joel in a post on their blog,
"He has a crazy-manic energy...He has been coming in for years, ordering double espressos and talking incessantly about roasting. Eventually he started bringing samples, little jelly jars meticulously labeled with dates, times and temperatures, and we witnessed his coffees become magnificent."
Eventually Half & Half become an official client (as did their sister restaurant Acorn) and Joel also won over the tastebuds of posh Pearl District restaurant Olea.
To serve his clients, he makes daily loops on his bike, riding between his roastery near 40th and Hawthorne and downtown. He's fanatical about freshness and usually sets out on his first deliveries of the day by 4:00am. He says,
"The goal is to get the coffee there before people wake up, or before they arrive."
As his business grows, so does the load in the homemade messenger bag he delivers his coffee with. He says it can hold 35 pounds of beans, but with his growing clientèle, he's ordered a new cargo bike from his friends at the Center for Appropriate Transport in Eugene.
Judging from the flavor of the espresso I had at Half & Half, his knowledge of Portland's coffee scene, and his obvious passion for roasting, I think a new cargo bike is a very wise investment.
For more on Joel Domreis and Courier Coffee:
- Check out an article in the Willamette Week (from 10/11/06) that labels Joel a "purist".
- Portland blogger Stumptown Girl calls Courier the "best in Portland," in this post.
- Joel's first customers, Half & Half Cafe share why they switched to his coffee in this article posted to their blog.