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Hidden away on Woodstock Bouleverd, not far from other coffee shops, is a rather special coffee shop...

ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF - These bags of Ethiopian coffee from the village of Wush Wush are waiting to be roasted at Woodstocks new inconspicuous Loma Coffee shop. Owner Brandon Smyth won the prestigious annual Good Foods Award competition for coffee this past January.   On any day, entering a new coffee shop tucked away at the back of the parking lot between Advantis Credit Union and the UPS Store on Woodstock Boulevard, you might see a huge one-hundred-pound cloth bag or two of coffee beans sitting in the corner, waiting to be roasted. Loma Coffee Company imports beans from around the world to roast in its shop. Currently, and through the Holidays, the beans are from a very famous village in Ethiopia – Wush Wush. In the 1950's Wush Wush became known for its shrubs, which grow a wild strain of coffee beans with a unique flavor.

Loma Coffee shop owner Brandon Smyth says it is hard to get coffee from Wush Wush – but, after interviewing him, it does not seem surprising that he has managed to get a supply. The quiet, unassuming entrepreneur has long been a coffee researcher, and has been a dedicated roaster for thirteen years.

Smyth began his first coffee shop in his garage in 2009, opened a shop on Water Avenue near OMSI in 2010 – and, after founding and running Pizza Jerk on N.E. Cully for a few years, he worked for three years as a roaster at Stumptown Coffee.

In January of this year his Ethiopian coffee won the very prestigious "Good Foods Award". He had been entering the contest for ten years before finally winning amidst very stiff competition – 2,500 entries from three regions around the United States. He remarked, "The award ceremony in San Francisco was great. I got to meet Alice Waters [of Chez Panisse Restaurant], and there were a few thousand people in attendance."

Smyth has been "Q Graded" for ten years as a certified judge and scorer of coffee through smell and taste. After the rigorous test, which is often compared to the Bar Exam for law students, only 50% of those taking the exam become certified.

Loma Coffee Company also sells coffee beans wholesale to restaurants, and to Spielman Bagels and Coffee. Smyth tells THE BEE that Portland's coffee hub has more roasters than any other place in the country. By November, Smyth will also be offering Spielman kettle-boiled, sourdough bagels, which have been voted Willamette Week's "Best Bagels" three years in a row.

At age 46 Smyth has a long history of loving coffee. His coffee drinking began in sixth grade which, he says, "didn't make his parents happy". But as a Research and Development Engineer, his father drank "tons of coffee" to stay sharp, and Brandon followed his father's passion for the brew.

The Woodstock neighborhood was Smyth's choice for his new shop because he has lived in Southeast Portland for twenty years, and has always liked Woodstock's walkability. "Something I've always noticed here is Woodstock's little town center. You can walk around and get pretty much anything you need. Everyone here has a sense of community."

Smyth likes it when his customers ask questions about his coffees, and says, "Portland is one of the most educated cities about coffee. It always surprises me how much people know. It is fun to have a discussion about the different varieties and what people like. It keeps me on my toes to provide good coffee."

The shop's address is 4229 S.E. Woodstock Boulevard. Current hours are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday; closed on Mondays. To order online, and to learn more about Loma Coffee Company's varieties, go to – www.loma-coffee.com


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