Water Avenue is, in fact, located on Water Ave, near Willamette River that runs through the center of Portland, Oregon. Their roastery cafe is a chic, modern affair set amongst the lofts and factory buildings of the city's historic industrial district. Their story begins in 2009 when, perhaps inspired by one of the snowiest winters on record, the three founders bought a vintage roaster from Switzerland and began their company. In 2010, less than a year after opening their first cafe, they were voted "Best Bean in Portland". In 2011, Seattle Weekly named them the "Best Espresso of 2011". How does a new shop gain such immediate success in such a tough market? For one, the trio of owners (father, son, and colleague) brought decades of industry and coffee experience, from coffee education to cafe management to barista-ing, from Oregon to Italy and in between.
For another, Water Avenue has a unique local roasting style, their riff on "Scandinavian": typified by an extended roasting process at a lower temperature. They like to create blends, to give their customers a consistent go-to favorite, as well as experimenting with rotating single origins. In a coffee scene where light-roasted single origins are the "hot commodity", Water Avenue's toasty (and tasty!) blends set them apart.
Water Avenue also attributes their success to Portland's "foodie" culture. In general, Portland's consumers are invested in their local, personal, and specialty food and beverage. As parodied on HBO's, Portlandia, the city loves its backyard chickens, their raft of craft beer breweries, and, of course, the coffee scene. In this environment, a roaster can do something a bit different, take a little extra care, and even casual coffee drinkers will take note... as will we, up here in Seattle. We say ahoy, Water Avenue!