// Case Study Coffee / Case Study Coffee Crew

We're Turning 5 on Sunday!

by Rachel Emery | | 0 comments

On June 14, 2010, Case Study Coffee was born. But the story actually begins before that. 

In 1999, Christine and Wes were pursuing their own work fields when specialty coffee as we know it was starting in Portland. Christine was pursuing her culinary passion of all things food and drink and Wes was involved various tech-related endeavors. They lived close to the original Stumptown at the time and quickly became regulars. Wes began experimenting with making coffee at home, tinkering with customizing machines and perfecting the art of making espresso at home. They knew they wanted to start a business together and thought that coffee would be the perfect mashup of their interests and skills. Christine could pursue her interest in the ways that origin effects flavor and how to make coffee a true culinary endeavor through signature drinks while Wes could concentrate on how they could make the most out of the beautiful coffees everyone was being exposed to at the time, and together they could share their passions with others. Thus Espresso Arts Catering was born.

After Christine's externship at Paley's Place, they didn’t have much money to invest, but on a small scale, they could design and build their own catering carts, play with coffee, and share it with a captivated audience. In September 2006, they had their first espresso catering gig. Espresso catering was a unique opportunity to expose customers to a truly fine coffee experience and a service that wasn't being offered in Portland. So many of the people they served were blown out of the water by how great the coffee was. Christine really values that experience. “It’s amazing how that ‘aha’ moment with coffee sticks with people almost more than any other culinary experience. This is exactly why I personally had wanted to get involved with the culinary field to begin with. There is nothing better than that feeling that you’ve given someone a moment they will remember forever.”

The Schnitzers booked Espresso Arts Catering for a steady gig over the course of four months while the Pacific First Center was under construction as a “thank you” gift to their tenants for putting up with renovation. It was through this experience with regular customers who were happy to see them (the steady income was nice too) that made them begin to dream of their own space and a short time later, they opened Case Study Coffee on NE Sandy Blvd. The idea for Case Study Coffee was born as a true extension of what they were already doing with Espresso Arts Catering. The goal was to meld beautiful coffee, speed and efficiency, and a personal experience: a case study in the coffeehouse experience, if you will. They had learned through catering that as much as you want to engage with each and every customer about their coffee experience, true excellence in customer service means meeting the demands of the customers who are in a hurry as well. The goal of real hospitality is to always meet the customer where they are at, and cater to all their needs, not just give them perfect coffee.

The name “Case Study Coffee” means so much to Wes and Christine on many levels. “It referenced the houses of the mid century that Wes and I grew up with as design and architecture buffs, while implying that everything we do in our business is a case study: from the science of perfect coffee, to the art of blending hospitality with high volume customer service, from the design of the shops for flow and active public space, to the involvement of the staff in making decisions and helping to build out the shops, to meeting the needs of customers from all walks of life and prior coffee experience through education (if desired) and the use of specialty drinks as an introduction to the world of specialty coffee.”

When Case Study Coffee first opened, they mainly served Stumptown with monthly Portland guest roasters: Heart, Coava, Sterling, and Water Ave. Christine had played with home roasting in the past, and getting to work with various other roasters’ coffees, she was able to hone in her personal style based on what she wanted to see in the final product. In-house roasting is about controlling the quality of product from start to finish. Christine knew that she could help close the communication gap about how the coffee was behaving between the staff and her by roasting the coffee herself. “I’m very familiar with our systems and how we use our coffee, and our baristas are very familiar with the hows and whys regarding my coffee roasting style. Besides, now I get to serve exactly the coffees I want! Being from a culinary background, it’s important to me to create the ‘recipes’ from start to finish.”

As much as they loved being in the shop serving customers themselves, Christine and Wes knew that they weren’t growing business enough to make it sustainable for their staff. “We’d found some amazing team members and we wanted to keep them with us, and the only way to do that was to grow the business to a size that we could offer continued growth potential to our staff.” So they began the process of expanding beyond one location. The property management of the downtown space took notice of what they were doing on Sandy Blvd, loved their design, and wanted them to take the space. What a great iconic space it is too! Next to the Central Library, which is one of the most beautiful buildings in Portland, as well as those amazing windows with which to enjoy the view while sipping your coffee.

It was only a short time later that the need for roasting space came up. While searching for a roasting warehouse that had the potential for a small coffee kiosk, they found the amazing space next to the Tin Shed that is now the beautiful Alberta shop. They opened it up as a full coffeehouse and found warehouse space just blocks away. “With the Alberta space, we really wanted to flesh out our “Case Study” design philosophy; Wes designed and built all the woodwork you see with the help of the Case Study staff, we ‘invented’ and laid the floors ourselves. Everything you see was built by us and the staff.”

So, what can we expect to see as Case Study Coffee continues to grow? Christine plans to continue the very personal relationship they’ve made with the producers they have met and purchased from while abroad. They will continue to host events surrounding these coffees as they roll in. “We love to serve coffees that tell a story and continue to foster education surrounding specialty coffee and the unique experiences it brings us.” Besides the 3 Portland cafes, Case Study Coffee still does Espresso Catering with the original La Marzocco GS3s they purchased at the start of their catering days and are working to expand that arm of the business.

Tags: Behind the Scenes, Brew It, Case Study Coffee Crew, Catering Chronicles, Coffee, Customer Profile, Events

Case Study Coffee Crew: Dylan McClain

by Rachel Emery | | 0 comments

Hailing from the town of Lawrence, Kansas, Dylan claims that his biggest accomplishment in life thus far was bringing home the Jr High Kansas State Chess Championship in 8th grade. When not slinging lattes or visiting other shops around town, he can be found spending time outside, whether hiking or tending his garden. Living life in the moment is what Dylan is all about. "Coffee, and gardening for that matter, is a way to be present. You can't do it right if you're not in the moment. There are too many details and opportunities that will be missed." He really loves getting the chance to connect and converse with someone over the coffee he is serving them. 

Like many others, Dylan got into the coffee business in order to pay the bills during school. Since moving here, he has come to realize what a special place the city of Portland is to participate in the coffee industry. “I love Portland as a coffee city. It’s taught me a lot about coffee. Past, present, and future. It’s an incredible backdrop for learning the business. And Case Study has really been built in this city by hand, wood-panel by wood-panel. I feel very fortunate to find my home here.”

Dylan is proud to work for Case Study Coffee because “We are ahead of the curve. We don't just hold ourselves to industry standards and trends but we do things, and do them well, because they are what our customers are looking for and we are really here for them.” For instance, if Dylan has taken your order, he has probably made you try a small spoonful of our hazelnut sauce. It's something people want and so we make it the best we possibly can.

Dylan is proud to be a part of the Case Study Coffee crew in which the customers are the top priority. "I think the best days of Case Study Coffee are still to come." With his forward thinking attitude and drive to always continue learning and improving quality, Dylan is an irreplaceable asset to the Case Study Coffee Crew and we are excited about what the future holds with him on our team.

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Case Study Coffee Crew: Shaylee King

by Rachel Emery | | 0 comments

Shaylee grew up in the small town of Seward, Alaska. One night, sitting around the campfire with her family, surrounded by the beauty of nature and the glorious Alaskan night sky, she realized that she was so lucky to grow up in such a majestic place. Yet, she knew that there must be more out there that would continue to amaze her. “I needed to see the world. I knew that I would miss home because, honestly, I am in love with Alaska and my family, but I knew I needed to explore.”

Shaylee thrives in creative atmospheres. She loves exploring the outdoors through hiking, camping, and rock climbing. She loves to create paintings and drawings and can usually be found with a camera in hand. Shaylee works with the Outdoor Program at PSU teaching students teamwork, leadership, and respect for the environment. She has dreamed of backpacking in Ireland since she was a little girl, giving her the opportunity to take in all the beautiful landscapes there while learning more about her ancestors’ history and culture. 

In high school, Shaylee got a job at Kaladi Brothers Coffee Company in Alaska because they were great people with the best cup of coffee in Alaska. She stays in coffee because she feels very comfortable and knowledgeable, yet knows there is always more to learn. Since moving to Portland, that knowledge has just kept growing and expanding and that is how she truly fell in love with coffee. There is such a variety of methods, options and culture within the community here. “Coffee is a big part of who I am and my life in general. I’ve been in the industry since 2009!” 

One of Shaylee’s favorite parts of coffee is the challenge of creating that perfect drink for someone and gets really excited thinking about the cup of coffee and the impact it can have on someone’s day. Working at Case Study Coffee since 2012, Shaylee has been blown away at the amount of knowledge and resources she has access to here as well as the spectrum of co-workers she’s been able to work alongside. “I have met so many great people that have impacted my life, taught me things, and explored my early years in Portland with, and have developed some lasting friendships and for that I am truly grateful.”

Shaylee is currently studying Art Practices specializing in photography and minoring in business at PSU and has her own photography business: kshayleephotos.com 

Tags: Case Study Coffee Crew

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