Business

Valley becoming haven for coffee enthusiasts

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SNOQUALMIE VALLEY - When Bryan Brown tasted the coffee at Caffe Lusso in Redmond, he loved it so much he decided he had to bring it to the Valley.

"It was just amazing," Brown said. "This guy [who owns Caffe Lusso] is fanatic about coffee."

Brown thought it would be a great addition to the Bryan's One Stop gas station he owns on North Bend Way. He built a stand on the corner of his property and outfitted it with the latest and greatest in espresso technology and syrups to serve his new-found favorite coffee. While Brown was not able to put in a drive-through window, he said people are more than willing to park and make their way over to Brown Sugar Espresso.

"If we had a slogan, it would be, 'We are worth the walk,'" he said.

Brown's business joined a growing number of coffee shops, coffee stands and coffee servers throughout the Valley. While the Northwest always has been a haven for coffee drinkers, the last couple of years have seen the number of new coffee shops increase and the number of businesses wanting to incorporate coffee into their services grow as well.

Although there are quite a few places one can quench their java jones in the Valley, there is room for all kinds of competition. Sit-down cafes remain popular not only for coffee, but for conversation. When Bibo Coffee opened during the summer of 2002 in the Snoqualmie Ridge neighborhood, it was highly anticipated not only because it was the first retail shop to open, but because it gave the young neighborhood its own meeting place. Some retail shops, such as Kenny's Northwest Experience and Davis DVD, now have or are planning to have coffee service. For those wanting the quick fix, a stand with a drive-through window can offer coffee on the go.

That was the business Tanya Boyle got into last year when she bought Huxdotter Coffee in North Bend. She was working at the stand when the owner, who also owned a stand in front of the Snoqualmie Market, asked her about purchasing it.

"If I hadn't worked there, I wouldn't have done it," Boyle said.

Boyle said she doesn't plan on changing too much about the business, but she is thinking about offering a lunch menu. Huxdotter, a longtime coffee stand in North Bend, has a loyal customer base and Boyle already has a reputation with its patrons.

Jeani Beckwith had always wanted to run a coffee stand and eventually ran a cafe in Seattle. She left the cafe business for a while, but returned to it last year when she opened up Jeani's Sunshine Cafe in North Bend. In addition to lunch and breakfast, she offers organic coffee and has a drive-through window. She estimated coffee comprises close to 50 percent of her foot traffic. In addition to her cheerful decor and homemade meals, Beckwith said she wanted to offer the organic coffee she thought tasted better and was a responsible investment.

"That was important to me," Beckwith said.

Although she sees lines form at the Espresso Time drive-through coffee stand across the street, Beckwith said she is not worried about competition. She even admits to going to the Starbucks Coffee in North Bend herself every now and then. She said there is a place for every coffee stand and server in the Valley because everyone puts their own touch on a common drink.

"We're offering something completely different [from other competitors]," she said.

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