// Case Study Coffee / Customer Profile

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

Customer Profile: Oscar Mancilla

by Rachel Emery | | 0 comments

"Coffee is a blend of the work the barista does, the roasting, and the work in the field," says Oscar Mancilla. "Everything has to be well aligned to get a great cup, and you can have the best coffee in hand but it often comes down to what you get in the bar." A dedicated specialty coffee drinker who first dove into the multi-faceted world of craft beverages in his home country of Mexico, under the expert hands of Alberto Song Trujillo and his team at Caffe Sospeso in Tijuana, Oscar is a regular at Case Study Coffee. Oscar and his wife moved to Portland to work in the engineering industry; Oscar is an electromechanical engineer, while his wife works with the supply chain for Schneider Electric. Hobbies include exercise and  enjoying Portland's bounty of great food and beverages: "I'd have to say that right now my chin is my strongest body part! I'm really into tasting." Pour overs are Oscar's drink of choice when it comes to coffee. "I like African coffees a lot--mostly Kenya and Tanzania. I do like Costa Ricans, Peruvians, and even a Mexico from Guerrero that I had in Tijuana." Sometimes Oscar brings samples back to Portland to taste with our baristas. "When I came here, the first thing I did was look for a best coffee shop," says Oscar. "My expectancy was high and I found Case Study. I’m very picky. The reason I come all the way here is I like how they do coffee. Here, they look for more. The first person I actually talked with about coffee was Dylan, and then Tyree. Both of them are the ones I talk most with, and I started looking for Dylan, and then I followed him here. I started going to all the Case Study locations too!" We appreciate Oscar's cheery smile and enthusiastic coffee love, and are delighted that we have the chance to serve him on the regular!

"Coffee is a blend of the work the barista does, the roasting, and the work in the field," says Oscar Mancilla. "Everything has to be well aligned to get a great cup, and you can have the best coffee in hand but it often comes down to what you get in the bar." A dedicated specialty coffee drinker who first dove into the multi-faceted world of craft beverages in his home country of Mexico, under the expert hands of Alberto Song Trujillo and his team at Caffe Sospeso in Tijuana, Oscar is a regular at Case Study Coffee.

Oscar and his wife moved to Portland to work in the engineering industry; Oscar is an electromechanical engineer, while his wife works with the supply chain for Schneider Electric. Hobbies include exercise and  enjoying Portland's bounty of great food and beverages: "I'd have to say that right now my chin is my strongest body part! I'm really into tasting."

Pour overs are Oscar's drink of choice when it comes to coffee. "I like African coffees a lot--mostly Kenya and Tanzania. I do like Costa Ricans, Peruvians, and even a Mexico from Guerrero that I had in Tijuana." Sometimes Oscar brings samples back to Portland to taste with our baristas.

"When I came here, the first thing I did was look for a best coffee shop," says Oscar. "My expectancy was high and I found Case Study. I’m very picky. The reason I come all the way here is I like how they do coffee. Here, they look for more. The first person I actually talked with about coffee was Dylan, and then Tyree. Both of them are the ones I talk most with, and I started looking for Dylan, and then I followed him here. I started going to all the Case Study locations too!"

We appreciate Oscar's cheery smile and enthusiastic coffee love, and are delighted that we have the chance to serve him on the regular!

Tags: Customer Profile

Customer Profile: Dave & Jess Ratliff

by Rachel Emery | | 0 comments

Every Saturday, Dave & Jess Ratliff walk a few blocks to our Sandy store, grab their drinks (Dave: milk, sugar, coffee, in that order. Jess: Cafe au lait), and sit facing the street while they decompress from the busy work week and enjoy each others' presence. It's a weekly ritual they've been holding since a couple months after the store opened and they consider our staff family. "Dave and I aren't really coffee drinkers," says Jess with a laugh. "This is the only place we drink coffee." When the couple first visited the shop, they were recommended by their granite installer to check out the countertops at Case Study, and while it may have been stone that drew them, it was the shop itself that kept them coming back. The Ratliffs met in high school in Boulder, and have lived around the nation--from Texas to New York to Louisiana, and, of course, Portland. Four cats (Miko, Gamera, after the monster in the Japanese movies, Bradley, and Huck) keep them busy, and Dave builds custom cycles. (www.velvetcycles.com) We love seeing Dave and Jess enter our shop and look forward to many more happy Saturdays!

Every Saturday, Dave & Jess Ratliff walk a few blocks to our Sandy store, grab their drinks (Dave: milk, sugar, coffee, in that order. Jess: Cafe au lait), and sit facing the street while they decompress from the busy work week and enjoy each others' presence. It's a weekly ritual they've been holding since a couple months after the store opened and they consider our staff family.

"Dave and I aren't really coffee drinkers," says Jess with a laugh. "This is the only place we drink coffee." When the couple first visited the shop, they were recommended by their granite installer to check out the countertops at Case Study, and while it may have been stone that drew them, it was the shop itself that kept them coming back.

The Ratliffs met in high school in Boulder, and have lived around the nation--from Texas to New York to Louisiana, and, of course, Portland. Four cats (Miko, Gamera, after the monster in the Japanese movies, Bradley, and Huck) keep them busy, and Dave builds custom cycles. (www.velvetcycles.com)

We love seeing Dave and Jess enter our shop and look forward to many more happy Saturdays!

Tags: Customer Profile

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