Centennial neighbors host a ‘Coffee Pop Up’, promoting communal coffee shop

Discover why volunteers are working to bring a community coffee spot to their outer East Portland neighborhood …

Volunteers welcome guests to the Centennial “Coffee Pop Up” gathering.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Judging by the response to a “Coffee Pop Up” held on Saturday, December 9, it seems a lot of folks living in or near the Centennial neighborhood like the idea of gathering for a hot beverage, especially during the winter.

In addition to coffee, those who came also enjoyed tea and hot cocoa as they visited in the Center Powered by Y.O.U.T.H. – located in the building formerly dedicated to the Rosewood Initiative, on SE Stark Street.

Organizer Karen Wolfgang spends a moment with supporter Paula Byrd of Thrive East PDX.

“We’re here today showcasing different styles of coffee, and coffee-making,” explained the event’s “instigator” (as she puts it), Karen Wolfgang – who is also the Centennial Neighborhood NET leader.

“And, at the same time, we’re creating a community opportunity at the Center Powered by Y.O.U.T.H.,” Wolfgang told East Portland News.

Asked what prompted the idea of having this event, Wolfgang immediately replied, with a big smile, “Because I like coffee. In fact, I like coffee a lot!”

Mia Saniti, a Centennial community member, talks with Centennial Community Association president David Linn, who is also a Director on the Centennial School Board and also a Portland City Council East Portland District 1 candidate.

David Linn (see above) apparently also enjoys coffee – he came equipped with his Japanese suction coffee brewer, an old-school barista vacuum brewer, and a French coffee press.

In the days before the coronavirus pandemic, their neighborhood did have a coffee shop, Milo’s Espresso. But, Wolfgang pointed out, it didn’t survive the COVID shut-downs.

“Now, here we are, with about 25,000 people living in our neighborhood – and no sit-down coffee shop,” bemoaned Wolfgang. “There are drive-throughs – like Bikini Barista down the street, but I’m not sure that I want to sit down with folks there!”

Lailuma Nudrat offers Green Black and Saffron tea from Afghanistan; they are products sold at the Afghani Market, at 16502 SE Division Street, 97236.

Decries lack of retail infrastructure
“Here in Centennial, we don’t have a community center, we don’t have a library, and we don’t even have a pharmacy now either,” Wolfgang pointed out. “All the community institutions that you might expect or look to for places where people can cross paths are absent here in the Centennial neighborhood.

“I’m not only one who likes coffee,” Wolfgang acknowledged. “In a coffee shop, you can do a lot of things other than drink coffee – like build community! Establishing a coffee shop could be a first step in that direction.”

Over cups of steaming coffee, folks meet and talk about their dreams of a coffee shop returning to the Centennial neighborhood.

Next step: Looking toward community ownership
Wolfgang said that she, along with people involved in the Centennial Community Association, the Centennial Neighborhood Emergency Team, and Thrive East PDX and Centennial Resilience Hub/Network, are all looking at community ownership models for a coffee shop.

“Once we get the business model and business plan in place, we have some offers of help with that so that’s looking good,” Wolfgang informed. “And, once we do that, then we would need to look for investors – specifically, for community members and people who would work in the coffee shop as owner-managers.”

Interested? Contact her by email at Karen.Wolfgang@Gmail.com. “If I don’t respond right away, be sure to send me another email – because my inbox is a bit crazy,” she conceded.

© 2024 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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