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Partners: Lionheart Coffee

For a new coffeehouse–make that a yet-to-open coffeehouse–in the sizable Portland, Oregon suburb of Beaverton (which is not known for craft beverages), Lionheart Coffee is an astonishingly solid enterprise. Owners Ben Reese and Kaisa Butcher have weathered many of the beginning stages of opening a coffee business, from excited inspiration over a siphon brewer with their spouses to finding a space, and they face the next steps with courage worthy of their company’s name. In between meetings and coffee tastings, they are beginning the renovations on their shop, which they project will open by the beginning of April. Caravan has had the privilege of working with these passionate folks for months now, and we will be furnishing the bulk of their coffee when they open. (Lionheart will also showcase other local roasters on a monthly rotating basis, a move we applaud.)

First: awesome name, isn’t it? Lionheart came into being almost exactly a year ago, but naming the business was tough for Reese and Butcher until they caught sight of the tattoo on Butcher’s wrists: “Lionheart”. The name is a reminder to Butcher of her year working in India with victims of human trafficking–“The survivors and case workers were such an inspiration to me. The survivors overcame so much pain to find joy in their lives, and their case workers would fight for hours through Mumbai traffic to work twelve-hour days.” Reese adds that he was fascinated by the historical King Richard the Lionheart, and that Lionheart’s unique branding is reflective of the famous king’s shield. Both outreach and protection capture Reese and Butcher’s heart for their new business.

Every aspect of Lionheart will be carefully curated. The coffee, of course, will come from us and from other high-end coffee roasters. The focus will be on local, artisan foods and beverages, including Great British Bakery in Hillsboro, The Bowery Bagels in Portland, and tea from Jasmine Pearl Tea Merchants in Portland. While there will be plenty of service for grab-and-go coffee drinkers, the emphasis will be on table side and pour over service, with both tea and coffee. Reese says, “We are very experience-based, and are constructing every aspect of our business to emphasize the experience for our customers.”

This means having a simple menu–“Three well-made flavors, not fifty”–and a special emphasis on training. “We’ll be offering the Flat White, too,” says Reese, “since Paul (Caravan’s Master Roaster) is from New Zealand.” We want to celebrate other cultures: with the help of Great British Bakery, we’ll be doing a table side English Cream Tea, and we are planning to hold a daily “Chai-wala” in the Indian tradition, where we bring small cups of delicious chai to all our customers.”

Reese and Butcher worked together at Starbucks years ago, and reconnected in their passion for coffee more recently, when they and their spouses shared a very special meal. “I had roasted an Ethiopia Yirgacheffe to complement our dinner, and prepared it in a siphon. Kaisa’s husband didn’t really like coffee til then, but he drank his first cup of black coffee and loved it. We started talking, and it was like we were putting words in each other’s mouths. Over the next few months we realized we were the ideal business partners.” Lionheart is intended to capture and convey that wonderful night to customers.

At first the entrepreneurs planned to roast their own coffee, but then Butcher stumbled into Caravan Coffee’s Tasting Room during a Willamette Valley wine tour with her husband. “The coffees are amazing–exactly the flavor profiles we were looking for!” Butcher remembers calling Reese and telling him she’d found their roaster. “They’ve been so generous to us–treating us like family. Pete (Miller, owner) and Marcus took the time to sit down with us over our business plan, and it was really helpful.”

We are following Butcher, Reese, and their spouses with excitement as they get closer to the opening of their shop. For now, follow them online on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

The post Partners: Lionheart Coffee appeared first on Caravan Coffee.

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