We're wrapping up an action-packed week on Build-Outs with a look at Still Vibrato of Bend, Oregon. This expanding brand has grown from a roasting operation into a tasting room, and now a full coffee shop, opening their new digs in fall of 2020 just as the second round of lockdowns hit Oregon. Their space is gorgeous—you're going to want to keep reading.
As told to Sprudge by Clint Rowan.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
Still Vibrato is a small specialty coffee roasting company based in Bend, Oregon. The idea behind the project sparked about 10 years ago. What began as a fascination with coffee shops turned into a tasting pursuit. In 2016, we launched the roasting program, opened a roastery/tasting room in 2018, and have now opened the coffee shop in 2020.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
The new space has a very nice, modern, and rather urban feel, making it stand out in a mountain town like Bend. It's located on the ground floor of a very big building, actually the tallest one in Bend! Above the coffee shop is about 200 apartments that are completely full, and there's a waiting list to live in one. The elevator up is right across from our bar, and makes for a whole lot of great people watching, and perhaps a whole lot of customers. Two really great things about our space is the roll-up garage door and the high ceilings. The coffee shop feels spacious and there's plenty of natural light for plants to enjoy.
What’s your approach to coffee?
The beauty of working with coffee is the potential to learn, and as we learn our approach matures, becomes more well-rounded, and hopefully more playful. The idea of an evolving approach to coffee really resonates. For now though, it's all about brewing for sweetness and roasting for balance. Being a roaster and also serving coffee at the cafe is quite special. The potential to shape flavor becomes enormous and that's where we really have fun.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
We're making espresso on a two-group La Marzocco Linea with two Mazzer Kony grinders and one Mazzer Major. This is a pretty classic setup, similar to a lot of the early 2000's Portland coffee shops. The goal was to keep it simple and actually learn how to maintain the equipment. For drip coffee we're using a Fetco XTS 3L brewer and a Mahlkönig EK43 grinder. This combo allows for so much control in brewing. Our overall setup is solid and reliable. In the future I hope to bring in an espresso machine with scales built into the drip tray to add another layer of efficiency for the busier days.
How is your project considering sustainability?
We make three of our milks at the coffee shop and serve them from glass growlers. This helps reduce the amount of plastic cartons we use. The growlers are easy to wash and are endlessly reusable.
Another way we are considering sustainability is through the use of Huskee Cups. Customers who purchase a Huskee cup are entered into our swap system. Instead of using a to-go cup, their drink comes in a Huskee cup that they return and we wash.
The other thing we offer is coffee by the ounce or pound. We encourage customers to refill their coffee bag or to bring in a jar to fill with beans. This has gone really well and customers are really taking to it.
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
We worked with Septagon Studio, formerly known as Flat White Ceramics, for all of our in-house ceramic mugs, saucers, and planters. The ceramicist, Sean White, is so talented and we can't get enough of his work! Luckily he is local, and replenishes us with cool demitasse and mugs for us to use in the shop, as well as sell on our retail shelf.
We are so excited to share our project, thank you for this opportunity!