The product of any hands-on craft, including roasting coffee, is bound to be imbued with the spirit of its creators, a charming idiosyncrasy of skill, preference and personality. With coffee though, once a winning combination of aroma, acidity, body and flavor is brought into balance and delivered to the public, folks come to depend on it and take comfort in consistency.
In Corvallis, Ore., the Tried & True Coffee Co. café and its sibling roasting company Bespoken Coffee Roasters are soon to bring both endeavors under one roof with their second location, which includes a production facility where profiles and preferences are explored, and a cafe where the fruits of these experiments become familiar.
At the crux of both companies are Ann and Collin Schneider, two longtime Oregon coffee pros that struck out on their own in 2014 at first with Bespoken, which is entirely their own, and then shortly thereafter with Tried & True, a café they opened with partners, hence the legal and financial status as separate companies.
Having worked in various Portland specialty coffee institutions, including Coava Coffee Roasters and Sterling Coffee Roasters, the Schneiders know their stuff, and their shops, too, have the look and the gear that seem plucked straight out of the coffee mecca in which they’d honed their skills.
That’s actually literally the case in the original 400-square-foot T&T location at 160 SW Madison in downtown Corvallis, with an espresso bar organized around the same Synesso Cyncra that once anchored the beloved bygone Portland neighborhood café Little Red Bike. “It’s got some history on it, but it’s an amazing machine and it’s worked super well for us,” Ann Schneider told Daily Coffee News.
Bespoken Coffee Roasters, meanwhile, has to this point been renting time on the 6-kilo-capacity Giesen roaster owned by Sterling Coffee Roasters, one of whose shops Ann used to manage. The married business duo opted to establish their business in Corvallis to be closer to family and to raise their own in a smaller community, and have been commuting back into Portland twice a week for production. Yet since June of this year a brand new 10-kilo Proaster waited eagerly for installation in their new space.
“The city of Corvallis has a very particular way they like things done,” Schneider said of the various hoops and setbacks they’ve encountered along the way in reinventing a space that was most recently a doggy daycare business but was originally built to house a Jiffy Lube. “We have a really awesome basement, so we plan on doing our green storage directly underneath the roastery and then doing like a lever system to pull it up.”
The Bespoken roastery in Southtown will be a 200-square-foot space walled off from the Tried & True café which will occupy the rest of the total 1,400 square feet on the main level, with an equivalent floor space of basement storage.
On the bar of the new shop will be a brand new Synesso, backed by a Mahlkonig Peak to grind espresso and an EK43 for brews via Fetco Pulse. Through the Proaster will tumble greens sourced with help from Coffee Shrub, Onyx Coffee, Café Imports, and Red Fox Coffee Merchants.
“Our whole thing with Bespoken is the tailor-made custom — that each coffee is different,” said Schneider. “Really, I think some of the fun of owning your own business is that we’re trying new things out all the time. There’s just so many different ways to roast coffee, it’s unbelievable and it’s always changing.”
While there may be constant exploration and play with the timing and duration of Bespoken coffees’ routes from green to brown, Schneider notes that the end result still generally adheres to their own more consistent preferences, which is a well-developed balance of sweetness and acidity falling somewhere in the medium-to-light range.
“We’re trying to relax and have fun with it, not be set in our ways, because that’s not progress,” said Schneider, noting the fine balance between creativity and consistency among batches from week to week, as changes in a profile are also necessary to follow the sweet spot of the bean as greens age. “We’re not throwing curve balls.”
Schneider said that the goal of the Tried & True and Bespoken partnership is to eventually spread to five or six shops up and down the Willamette Valley, and that the company is particularly passionate about serving the sometimes overlooked markets outside of Oregon’s more saturated and more frequently heralded food and coffee cities like Portland or Bend. “There’s such good things happening outside of those places,” said Schneider, adding that she’s also excited for employees representing both the cafe and the roastery to compete in upcoming barista competitions, potentially earning some recognition of the scene in Corvallis.
The new Tried & True Coffee shop and Bespoken roastery will open at 120 SW Cummings Ave in Corvallis before Christmas.