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Insomnia Coffee has two locations in town, and views itself as a community hub.

Editor's Note: This story first appeared in our Hillsboro's Best special section. Every year, the Tribune solicits feedback from the public for our annual Hillsboro's Best awards.

PHOTOS: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - In the few short months that Insomnia Coffee has operated its downtown shop, but it has already become a popular destination. Ten years ago, local theater enthusiasts Evan Aldrete, his wife Amy and their best friend Tyler Geel bowed down from the stage and took a dive into the coffee business.

"Back then Portland wasn't super saturated like it is now," Aldrete said.

There was a need for a caffeinated community hub west of the city in the Hillsboro suburbs, said Aldrete —so they opened Insomnia Coffee at their first location at 53rd Avenue and Baseline Street.

"We had a pretty shoestring budget," Aldrete recalled. "We bought everything used, except for the napkins."

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Location: 317 E. Main St.

Hours:Monday through Friday: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday: 7a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Even just a few customers in a line felt like a rush, he said, and it was exciting.

"I remember the smell of it. I remember the feeling of it," he said.  

Each of the six locations they've opened since brings those sensations rushing back — and it feels like serving coffee out of his living room, he said.

"It's like you're in your brand-new house you've built but you're making coffee and exchanging money," said Aldrete. "It's a crazy thing that commerce happens that way. You build a living room that people feel comfortable in and they want to come in and hang out."

Four years ago the trio took on another foray and began roasting their own coffee, branded Dapper and Wise, whose namesake shop can be found in Portland.

"Roasting the coffee lighter accentuates the natural characteristics in the coffee," said Aldrete. "Rather than roasting them out and introducing roasted flavors,you're accentuating the sweetness and sugar content."

He's seen the public's taste for coffee swell and change over the years. Portland is an ever-fickle place for the pop-up coffee shop, said Aldrete, whose streets are seemingly peppered with the shops every few blocks.

The key to Insomnia's succes?

"People ultimately just want a really good cup of coffee. That's kind of our mission, just to be a solid coffee purveyor," said Aldrete.

This January they opened their sixth and largest location in downtown Hillsboro, complete with a conference room and bakery, a ceiling-tall German coffee roaster, and a taxidermy moose head named Bruce adorning the wall of the staff office.

He's trying to bring something a bit different to the coffee business, and its atmosphere.

"We're trying to break down the walls of seriousness with coffee," said Aldrete.

It's all about the people," he said. "What draws them in and keeps them there."

Insomnia is a place where they can find organic coffee along with some organic conversation. It's an easy place to chat with a barista or other customers, said Aldrete.

"It's more of a community hub and I honestly wouldn't have it any other way," said Aldrete.

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