A few months ago we published a feature about Street 14 Coffee House, a coffee bar in the charming seaside town of Astoria, Oregon. The feature was titled “You Should Buy This Awesome Cafe“, and we totally meant it, for both altruistic and selfish reasons. Altruistic because Street 14 was for sale, and hey, shouldn't every great cafe get a second chance at life? But selfish because Astoria is adorable, and at just around 2 hours away from Portland, your Sprudge.com editors have cottoned to it pretty seriously as a weekend getaway destination. We wanted someone to buy Street 14 so we could keep going there while visiting Astoria.
And that's where the story gets interesting.
Enter Jennifer & Micha Cameron-Lattek. She's originally from Portland, and he's from Germany. They're married, and while living together in Berlin the couple owned and operated Filter Kaffeebar, the first Stumptown Coffee account outside of North America. They're also ardent Sprudge readers, and our feature on Street 14 – “You Should Buy This Awesome Cafe” – spoke to them in a way we never dreamed possible. Long story short, Jennifer and Micha are the new owners of Street 14, a must-visit Stumptown account in the quaint seaside town of Astoria, Oregon.
We had an email Q&A with Micha Cameron-Lattek to suss out the details. Here's what he had to say about Berlin, Astoria, and the long, strange trip from Filter to Street 14:
Sprudge: So, this is kind of an unbelievable story – tell us what happened in your own words.
Micha Cameron-Lattek: I read Sprudge regularly and so I simply stumbled over the article and thought “yeah, someone definite should… oh wait, it's in Oregon!” We were on track to go brick and mortar after our temporary gigs all over Berlin and were pretty close to signing a lease. Instead we decided to fly out here, check out Astoria and the shop and pretty much fell in love with everything here immediately.
Sprudge: Astoria is tiny and beautiful – what have been some of your first impressions living and working there? What's cool there in town? How have the regulars been?
MCL: It's a cool small town, which we think is pretty special. You'll find people, shops, restaurants and bars here you wouldn't expect in a town of 10.000 people. The unique thing about Astoria is its great mix of people: blue collar harbor town workers, fishermen, artists, Portland refugees, college kids, retirees and they all come into our shop. We love about Astoria that it is a real town on the Oregon coast, not totally depended on tourism and beautifully located at the mouth of the Columbia. Astoria has been welcoming to us in the best way imaginable. Locals came in welcoming us to the community and regulars of the shop have started bringing in friends and family. It's been really touching!
We see people from Portland, Seattle and Northern California come through here but the majority of our customers are regulars we already know by name. It's something we're very grateful for.
We rarely have time to check out the other businesses in town. But we make a point in connecting with other business owners and look forward to cooperating with like minded businesses. We already got the good people at Ft George Brewery in touch with Stumptown so look out for a seasonal coffee beer! Ft. George is where we regularly spend our tip money. We're also planning something with ‘a restaurant and a spice shop in town.
S: You folks are known for your work at Filter Kaffebar in Berlin – tell us about that shop. How did the partnership with Stumptown even come about? What's the scene in Berlin like?
MCL: I met April Melnick who used to work for ST at a cupping at The Barn in Berlin. At the time, Jennifer and I had plans to open a coffee shop in Berlin and April mentioned the possibility of using Stumptown. We knew and loved Stumptown from living in the US and decided to go for it. We started with a little temporary coffee bar at a co-working space and also had a stand at farmers markets. Before we could go brick and mortar we found out about Street 14 being for sale.
The neighborhood of the co-working space was very much a early gentrification neighborhood, close to the very happening district of Berlin Mitte. Our shop was mainly frequented by the self-employed entrepreneurs, freelancers and artists of the adjacent offices while our mainly unemployed and immigrant neighbors ignored us for the most part. We did cup pings twice a week and those were generally well attended. Still, it was culturally challenging space to be in but we ultimately decided to move on for financial reasons. We used a 3-group Strada EP and a Robur E.
Next, we had stands at two organic farmers markets in Berlin Mitte and Kreuzberg. Those neighborhoods are very gentrified, international and people there are more willing and able to spend on quality. We only served Chemex and AeroPress which was an additional challenge to our customers, who were mainly used to espresso. However, we got some good interest in our coffee and even sold some retail bags.
Berlin's coffee scene is undergoing a pretty dramatic shift from what I can tell. In the last five years, this city of 3.5 million people went from one serious coffee shop to about five. Still, there's lots of room for growth, especially for roasters. Most serious coffee shops import from Scandinavian roasters. I definitely have to mention Ralf from The Barn as an inspiration. What that guy has done in less than three years is pretty amazing. Check him out!
S: Street 14 recently switched from Water Avenue Coffee to Stumptown – talk to us about why you made that decision, and tell us more about how you'll be serving Stumptown. What gear? What brewing methods? Single origin espresso or Hairbender? Or both?
MCL: The decision to switch to Stumptown was not easy for us. We did not really know Water Avenue but Jennifer did training at the school as part of the takeover. There she got to know Matt and everyone else. I later met Aaron, Brendan and Alan at a cupping at Water Avenue and was really impressed with their coffees and the way they do source. We ultimately decided to make the switch because of our prior relationship with Stumptown and the great people we know there. Everyone at Water has been awesome about our decision and they are happy to continue working with us.
We recently installed a 2-group La Marzocco Strada MP and are using a Mazzer Major, which is a real pain in the buns compared to the Robur we know from Berlin. We use Hairbender and a changing coffee on batch brew right now.
Street 14 Coffee (1410 Commercial St, Astoria, Oregon) is open Mon-Sun 6:30AM-6:00PM. Astoria really is awesome and adorable, and if you go there, consider staying at The Commodore Hotel (conveniently attached to Street 14).