Coava Coffee Roasters

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Our new Portland roastery, public brew bar, & HQ

Coava's Roastery & Headquarters

In a ten year period, this is the fourth iteration of a coffee roastery and headquarters for Coava. Our first ever home was a humble North Portland garage, after which we opened our flagship cafe on Portland's Grand Avenue and roasted right next to the bar. Over time, we moved to a larger, dedicated roasting space right next door to the Grand Avenue location. When we finally outgrew that small space, we knew that this fourth and final time, it was time to do it right.

Matt, Coava's founder, began searching for a space that would facilitate the growth that we dreamed of and diligently prepared for over the years. This search took nearly eighteen months. Dozens of false starts and disappointments later, in the very industrial district of inner SE Portland that the flagship location had already made its indelible mark on; a 13,000 square foot building sat in disrepair, yet structurally sound. The nearly 100 year old building went up for sale and was purchased by Coava, securing our new home. Wasting no time whatsoever, construction began.

What follows is a photo journey that spans the time from purchase to opening our doors to the public; just over two years from start to finish. Please note that these images document only a fraction of that process, but hopefully imbue a sense and scope of the dream that a handful of coffee lovers experience and nurture together. 

10/08/2015 - On a rainy October day, a dimly lit, recently gutted 10,000 sq. ft. room houses the architectural floor plans for a brand new Coava. Construction has begun. 

2/9/2016 - Looking from where the offices will be situated, concrete is being laid. This small room missing a wall will become the production team's dedicated cupping room.

10/08/2015 - Looking through the space that will one day house the lab. The largest components of the 60kilo Probat are in place and floor plans still in design review. 

10/08/2015 - Looking into what will later be our green storage room.

10/08/2015 - What will one day be a private office next to the production team dedicated cupping room.

1/10/2016 - Matt working on the air-relay system for the 60 kilo, as it is too large to be manually loaded.

2/9/2016 - Looking from the wholesale production area, the major components for the 60 kilo drum roaster are installed and ready to share its production with the currently used 12 kilo.

1/10/2016 - A Probat technician finalizes the installed and modified 60 kilo drum roaster.

The initial phase of gutting the building and doing all electrical, roof, and concrete work was complete in early 2016. The next huge step was the relocation of production equipment from the old to new facility. This was a massive undertaking in and of itself, as the logistics to keep production going while simultaneously moving all of those pieces are not simple. The 12 kilo drum roaster, which had taken us to the next level of production after the 5 kilo, was being installed beside the 60 kilo, and all production equipment had to follow.

2/9/2016 - Derrick, Justin, and Brian in one of last cuppings held at the old production space. This was the production room during Coava's entire coming-of-age, almost six years.

4/1/2016 - Chris begins moving pieces of the production set up out of the old green storage room. The 12 kilo sits in wait and will be the last to move.

4/1/2016 - Brian situating the unfastened 12 kilo on the beginning of its short journey 6 blocks to the new building.

4/1/2016 - Jaime helps guide Matt in loading up some green into the truck that will transport it to the new headquarters.

4/1/2-16 - Matt with the 12 kilo, ready to be hoisted into the moving truck.

4/1/2016 - Matt forklifting the 12 kilo into place, Nich being another set of eyes.

4/1/2016 - In it goes. Fairly certain this hovered very near the load limit for the truck.

4/1/2016 - The 12 kilo adjacent to but near its working position in the new facility.

4/13/2016 - Matt and Jon painting behind where the green storage shelves will be racked.

4/13/2016 - Brian resuming production at the new facility. Directly to the left and just out of view, is the 60 kilo which still had fine-tuning to be done.

10/20/2016 - The final set up: the 60 kilo beside the 12 kilo, with a sample roaster in between. By October we had been running this set up for months, but the build out for retail, offices, mezzanine, wholesale, and the silo system was not yet complete.

11/21/2016 - A particularly sunny day in November let the production staff utilize the warehouse windows.

10/8/2016 - Right after the sign was hand painted, we had an unforgettable bout with the snow.

Although production was continued without any major hiccup, the main bulk of work for a headquarters that intends so many purposes and includes so many moving parts was ahead of that sunny April. The designing, construction, fabrication, carpentry, and finishing work on the lab, offices, wholesale work-space, mezzanine, bathrooms, cupping room, etc., were all labors with their own challenges and special attention to distinct needs and details. Coava's care in developing and edifying a team throughout the years yielded a work ethic, creativity, and tolerance that was wonderful to be a part of. It is not only in the tactile satisfaction of a new place to work but also a tacit impulse of pushing things forward and finding purchase in something meaningful.

3/21/2017 - Justin and Matt load the first round of green product into the custom built silo system which can store and relay coffee to all of the production equipment throughout the facility.

3/21/2017 - The top of the custom fabricated silo system. There is only about 4 feet of space between the lids and the roof.

3/21/2017 - Matt putting in work for the final fabrication and assembly of the density separation table making Coava the only known coffee roaster who can do onsite grading and separation of specialty coffees.

3/19/2017 - The mezzanine allows a birds eye view of the first public cupping on the first day we ever opened our doors to the public. Nich led the way.

3/20/2017 - Serendipitous bloom: An extremely rare varietal of coffee from Costa Rica that Matt germinated and grew here in Portland was flowering the week of our soft open. It is rare and brief to witness these flowerings which later yield coffee cherries.

4/27/2017 - Looking from the door of the offices, the training lab is fully functional. This is where we train our staff and our wholesale partners.

4/27/2017 - Another view of Coava's well-outfitted training lab.

4/27/2017 - The Public Brew Bar is now open for coffee and chats with whomever may feel so inclined.

4/27/2017 - The production team's dedicated cupping room. Three prints of photographs taken at origin and in the cafe highlight the seed-to-cup narrative that is an indelible part of our culture.

4/27/2017 - Looking to front of the facility from the production team's view.

Opening this facility was a huge and essential step, but, don't confuse completion for latency; we aren't nearly done. Thank you. 

Photographs and narrative by Isaac Jones