Good Coffee. It's not just a craving. To Sam and Nick Purvis, it's a mission — and the name of their brand-new coffee shop on SE Division and 48th Avenue.
Good Coffee operated as a cart inside the shop for four months while the space was being built out, and the brothers say it was a great way to ease into the neighborhood. "It was like a dream," says Sam. "We got to figure out the coffees, develop a market around us, and connect with neighbors and industry people."
The brothers also used that time to grow an online following, with pictures of their powder-coated white Mahlkonig grinders quietly making the awed rounds on social media (somehow the brothers laid claim to the first factory-customized versions of these desirable machines).
"We'd mess around in his garage with power tools and drink beers and talk coffee."
Good Coffee has only been open a month, but if Sam Purvis already looks familiar, there's a reason. He's no newcomer to Portland's coffee scene. "I worked at a lot of different Portland cafes, including at Coffeehouse Five, where I met Matt Higgins when he was starting Coava," Sam says. "We'd mess around in his garage with power tools and drink beers and talk coffee."
Sam went on to join the staff at Coava (where he won first place in the 2011 regional barista championships) as well as at Barista, working at the Alberta shop alongside Tyler Stevens, who now manages the Teardrop Lounge, and Layla Ghambari, who is now the United States Barista Champion.
Younger brother Nick fell in love with coffee as his brother's customer, he says. After moving to Santa Barbara to study psychology in 2010, he waited tables at a winery and scored a second job at a local coffee shop called The French Press. As coincidence would have it, the shop was the first wholesale account for an up-and-coming third wave coffee company from Santa Cruz called Verve, which has since expanded to L.A. "We were the first crew Chris Baca ever trained," says Nick. "I had a lot of opportunities to connect with people in the industry and make good coffee."
He took full advantage of those opportunities, competing three years in a row in the Barista Championship circuit and making waves when he shot to the top and earned a place in the national round in 2013. "I learned a lot from competing," says Nick. "I learned to evaluate my skills at making coffee and polish them, also get comfortable in front of people."
Sam says hospitality is the cornerstone of his career in coffee. "Back when I was competing, when I worked with the American Barista and Coffee School, I was really falling in love with coffee and with the opportunities it presented — those being that it was a really good excuse to host and take care of people," he says.
Required reading when he at Barista was Setting the Table,
"One of the best things we can give our fellow humans is affection through sustenance."by renowned restaurateur Danny Meyer. "He said something that captured why I was drawn to a specialty product in the first place: When we come out of the womb, the two things we crave and continue to crave are food and affection. So one of the best things we can give our fellow humans is affection through sustenance."
That philosophy permeates everything the brothers and partner Dustin Evans do at Good Coffee. And it's a continuation of their work at Prettyman's General, the brothers' market/bar on SE Hawthorne. "I love this industry because of all the opportunities to take care of people. I think success for us in five years is people knowing us as that team who are really great at taking care of people, and who are great at their craft because of that."
The shop celebrates independent producers, from the furniture and lighting to the food and drink. Coffees come primarily from local roasters like Coava, Heart, and Roseline, and you can grab a bag of beans to take home. Teas come from San Francisco's Song Tea & Ceramics. To eat, there are pastries from Frice Pastry, and baguette sandwiches from Lardo made with sweetheart ham, triple cream Brie, and a butter honey spread.
The design of the space reflects common elements of modern coffeehouses — white subway tile, lots of natural light, light fixtures from Schoolhouse Electric. But the small details give it warmth: walnut shelving, plenty of well-loved greenery, marble countertops. And other details offer a sense of familiarity, like you're at a friend's house: a cozy couch facing two easy chairs from The Good Mod furniture store Downtown, a water stain on a vintage table, tea served in ceramic mugs hand-made in Portland from Vitrified Studio.
The same sort of details will show up in the brother's second space opening in December at SE 12th and Salmon. The brothers say that while they are always open to further expansion, right now they want to build out the brand they've begun.
The Purvis brothers have a habit of showing up in exactly the right place and time in the coffee world, where connections mean more than a resume. Good Coffee seems like the same kind of perfect storm of details and faces that the brothers built their careers on, but this time, Sam and Nick are inviting their city along for the ride.
Good Coffee: 4747 SE Division St., Portland
Hours: 6 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday; 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.