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Barista adds author to list of accomplishments

by: Jim Clark Leah McMahon, owner of Silk Espresso, just produced a coffee-themed book, in which she shares inspirational stories from her life.

It's hard enough to write a book, let alone serve up your heart and soul for the masses.

But that's what local espresso shop owner Leah McMahon has done with her literary debut 'At First Sip.'

'I'm really proud of it,' she says of the book, which she describes as a coffee shop read, over a cup of loose leaf jasmine green tea at Silk Espresso in Gresham. 'It's like my heart's out there walking around. I'm terrified but proud.'

McMahon's book includes six short stories of personal triumph and inspiration - all infused with a coffee theme. 'The book is about destiny and I wrote it for anyone who really believes in that,' she said.

Despite being told by teachers that writing is not her strength, McMahon writes in journals and puts pen to paper to memorialize special events like her first marathon.

'These were never meant for an audience of more than one,' she says.

But the idea for a book began percolating over a cup of coffee while catching up with a friend from her grade-school days in Eugene. Kyle Sexton heard her stories - everything from athletic limitations to a traumatic whopper of a career change - and said, 'When's your book coming out?'

Sexton had just self-published his first book, 'Remembership,' and encouraged McMahon to do the same. 'Those stories, I would love to buy and read and share,' he said.

Considering the challenges everyone seems to face these past few years - from unemployment to reduced wages to home foreclosures - people could really use an inspirational book penned by an underdog who's picked herself up, dusted herself off and created something remarkable, Sexton said.

McMahon, 37, of Troutdale, was shocked by the suggestion. But she chewed on it. 'Everyone's had a really rough few years,' she says. With the right message, the book her friend was prodding her to write could be timely and valuable.

So she dusted off her journals and polished up some entries, focusing on those that captured her exhausting struggle to become a bona fide member of the Oregon State University women's basketball team, as well as her career transition from sports marketing mogul to small business owner.

Over time, she created more chapters. And voilá, she had a book. At 57 pages, it's short and segmented into bite-size portions that can be devoured bit by bit as spare minutes allow, or lingered over and enjoyed all in one leisurely sitting.

'I'm getting a lot of positive feedback,' McMahon says. 'What I'm hearing is it's a nice little escape.'

If you go

What: Official release of Leah McMahon's book 'At First Sip' and book signing

When: 6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2

Where: Silk Espresso, 3030 N.E. Hogan Road

Details: Celebration of McMahon's first book with live Christmas music by local musician Nathanael Sams. To schedule signings or for information on carrying the $16 book in local shops at a reduced rate, email McMahon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .