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An existing Eastside coffee shop moves to a Holgate Boulevard location to improve its business

ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF - Keeper Coffee offers house-made pastries, quality coffee, and teas - and emphasizes fostering community, hospitality, and service. Staff shown (from left): Astrid Angell, Brittany Ruff (owner), Missy Guardiola, and Ryan Huff. On a bright sunny Saturday morning in mid-December, after long days of gray skies, rain, and pandemic fatigue, people were walking and driving from all corners of the metro area to experience a new coffee shop in the historic "Old Towne Crier" building (also the former location of Grandma's Restaurant) at 4515 S.E. 41st Avenue.

"Keeper Coffee" opened on December 7th after moving from its previous location on S.E. Taylor at 2nd Avenue. Surprisingly enough, as the line continued to form inside the shop (with distancing and masks), people identified themselves as having come from as far away as Canby, Beaverton, and Gresham.

Many said they'd learned about the shop on social media or by word of mouth, and had come to see what seemed to be a "cute" space. Decorated with vintage mirrors, small marble-top tables with cast iron bases, and dried flower arrangements, the shop's décor and original wooden floors are in the old-fashioned style of the original "Old Towne Crier". Another attraction online was the discussion of welcoming and friendly owners and employees.

Claire from Beaverton remarked that she'd seen a picture and video of the shop on social media and decided to check it out. Danielle Stipe from Canby said a friend had told her about the shop, so she decided to drive to Southeast Portland to see it.

There were also people from nearby who had walked to the shop. Tanya McCoy, a Woodstock resident since 1997, was there with her teenage son Gage and his friend Elliott. Tanya shared her excitement about finally having a new coffee shop to replace the former Starbucks that had closed on the corner of Holgate and Chavez Boulevards [formerly 39th].

"This morning we were walking up near Woodstock Boulevard on S.E. 41st and a young woman walking on the other side of the street yelled at us, 'Hey, excuse me, have you tried the new coffee shop on 41st and Holgate?' so we came to see it. I have waited a long time to have a business open in this building that would have the old neighborhood feel. And this is it!"

ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF - Sitting outside, drinking their coffee at Keeper Coffee, are customers Abby from Gresham, and Danielle Stipe from Canby. Henry the Golden Doodle is also enjoying the sunshine. Megan Turvey, who also lives in Woodstock, remarked, "They are one of the first businesses of hopefully a few more to open in the 'Towne Crier' building which, as many folks know, has been a work in progress over the years. It is very exciting to have new businesses in this northwest part of the neighborhood." The shop that first opened in the basement of the structure, this past October, is Wyrd Leatherworks and Meadery. They kept historic features intact, put stills in the back and rebuilt the kitchen. The medieval bar and leather shop – with wood carvings, fur pelts, and mead made with Bee Local honey – posts information and hours online: www.wyrdleatherandmead.com

The owner of this latest enterprise in the building, "Keeper Coffee", is Brittany Huff – a Lents neighborhood resident – who told THE BEE that this will be her second year of owning a coffee shop. "Believe it or not, I found out about the Towne Crier space on Craigslist!" She and her husband Ryan chose the name Keeper because "Ryan and I often say 'you're a keeper' and it stuck when we were thinking up names."

Huff has five employees in addition to herself. "Ryan, Star Obryan [an employee], and I are the core Keeper members, and have known each other since our teens. Star and I met at age sixteen in Perth, Australia, and have been joined at the hip ever since. I met Ryan one year later, and we married young. While living in Atlanta, Georgia, we both worked in coffee." 

The shop's coffee is sourced from "Coava". Huff says popular choices are Rose Cardamon Latte and Vanilla Latte. Tea selections are from Aesthete Tea, a woman-owned tea company in Multnomah Village. One Stripe Chai and hot chocolate are also offered. All coffee syrups and pastries are made in-house.

"Schnecken, or 'sticky bun', is my grandmother's recipe that I've adapted over the years. She would not have liked that I added pecans instead of walnuts," Ruff remarked jokingly. "Our chocolate chip cookie is large and crispy on the outside and chewy in the middle – we sell out of these almost every day, as well as our hand pies that we change the flavors of, seasonally."

Huff expressed her vision for their business: "I truly hope to be a neighborhood staple – for the community to rely on us for a warm welcome and hot coffee to start their day right. I plan to be here for the long haul, and really look forward to cultivating relationships with our neighbors, and developing a stronger menu that will eventually include more brunch options."

The shop is open 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. daily, but check the website and social media to see any updates, as well as photos and videos – www.keepercoffee.com Huff says, "During COVID we are only accepting card payments. Please wear a mask while ordering and shopping."

And, for more information about Coava Coffee Roasters – the makers of the coffee they serve – www.coavacoffee.com/our-story


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