'Sip and shop' at new downtown Hillsboro cafe
Last winter, Mark and RenÉ Bennett opened a small pop-up coffee bar and gift shop in downtown Hillsboro.
Now, that pop-up is becoming permanent.
Bennett Coffee, a small coffee roaster which has operates at local farmers markets for years, officially opened its doors last week at its new permanent home, 276 E. Main St. in the former Hill Florist building.
It's a step up for the Bennetts, who have been operating their roaster in their downtown backyard for years.
The couple have been making and selling coffee at local farmers markets for years, but have never had a retail space of their own, until now.
The shop is starting small. It offers black coffee for now, with pour-overs upon request, but will eventually offer cappuccinos, espresso and other coffee drinks.
The Bennetts began roasting their own coffee beans in 2012, but they weren't in it to make money.
They started roasting beans just for themselves, Mark Bennett said, but it didn't take long for people to want catch on.
"I'd make it and take it in to work," Mark Bennett said. "Fresh-roasted, fresh-ground coffee smells so good, and my workmates would come over with cups to buy some coffee. I sold it for a quarter a cup."
Mark Bennett retired this year after a career in code enforcement with the City of Beaverton. He said he was encouraged to take his products to local farmers markets, and sell them to the public.
They set up booths at markets in Tualatin, Cedar Mill, Forest Grove and Hillsboro and eventually got their coffee into New Seasons Market. After eight years at local markets, they agreed to launch The Temporia pop-up store last November, in partnership with the Hillsboro Downtown Partnership.
At the time, Partnership director EJ Payne said The Temporium was a way for new businesses to "test the waters" before opening a brick-and-mortar location.
"Pop-ups give people the ability to try things and experiment, without having to sign a five year lease," Payne said. "That lease is the scariest thing for a small business."
That was just the push they needed to take the plunge.
"It totally worked for us," Mark Bennett said. "We could try it without too much commitment."
The temporary storefront offered everything from locally grown nuts, mushrooms, breads, pastas, pies and cookies to ceramics, glassware, art pieces and woven baskets.
The new Bennett Coffee is much the same. You won't find any tables and chairs at this coffee shop. Instead, tables are filled with goods from local merchants. They have an art gallery with pieces up for sale and are currently looking for new vendors to put in their store.
"Somebody the other day called us a 'sip-and-shop,'" Mark Bennett said. "I thought, that sounds great to me."
Mark Bennett said he enjoys the eclectic goods his store provides.
"We're trying to help get other small businesses up and running, like we were," Mark Bennett said. "From here, maybe they can expand and open their own shop. We want to pay it forward."
Having been established at local farmers markets, Mark Bennett said the response to the new store has been encouraging.
"It's crazy how many people know we're here," RenÉ Bennett said. "We've had people in non-stop."
Opening the new store means saying goodbye to farmers markets, but RenÉ Bennett said she's ready for the next chapter.
"We started meeting these people who had fantastic products, and I knew this was what we needed to do," RenÉ Bennett said. "We should help people to move up."
By Geoff Pursinger
Follow Geoff at @ReporterGeoff
Subscribe to our E-News and get the week's top stories in your inbox
Quality local journalism takes time and money, which comes, in part, from paying readers. If you enjoy articles like this one, please consider supporting us.
(It costs just a few cents a day.)