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New owners assure future of Westmoreland's 'Schondecken Coffee'

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Schondecken Coffee Rosters new owners Steven Morrison and Joe Provencher get introduced to the shops trusty Sivetz Coffee Roaster by retiring owner Nancy Duncan.When word got out that Nancy Duncan, owner of Schondecken Coffee Rosters, wanted to retire, some folks worried that the long-running Westmoreland business might close.

But, starting on the first of June, new owners will take over what many claim to be Portland’s first small-batch local coffee roaster and shop.

“The Korgans opened it in 1986, to provide top-quality, fresh-roasted coffee for customers at their Korgan's Strudel House,” Duncan recalled.

The word “schondecken”, is precisely translated from German as “already covered”, and it means “to set a beautiful table”, Duncan explained. “The Korgans thought that to roast and serve great coffee was part of setting a great table for their guests. This shop opened to the public after they got established.”

This made Schondecken Coffee Rosters one of the first – if not the very first – micro-coffee roasters in town.

Now, a little over 17 years after she purchased the business – including the custom-made Sivetz Coffee Roaster made in Corvallis – Duncan looked back in May at her time running the business.

“It has been a very good run for me, partially because of the unique Sivetz roaster,” Duncan said. “We can accommodate people who order darker roasts or lighter roasts, and you can do a couple of pounds at a time, and do it to their specification.”

And now it's come time for a third generation of owners, she said. “It's time for young people to come and take over.”

With that, she introduced the new owners, Steven Morrison and Joe Provencher.

“We actually found her,” Morrison told THE BEE, when we asked how Duncan was introduced to them.

“We started our business in earnest last April. We were at the Moreland Farmers Market, and a month after it closed for winter, the manager e-mailed me and said that there was a potential for us to have a brick-and-mortar store in the Westmoreland area.”

They were formally introduced to Duncan in November, and started working out details of the sale.

While attending Willamette University, the pair had worked in coffee shops, Provencher recounted. “After we graduated, we missed working on a big, commercial espresso machine. But we couldn't afford to buy a really nice one, because they're very expensive. We decided to build one, thinking ‘How hard can it be?’”

Answering his own question, Provencher continued, “As it turns out, it’s really difficult to build an espresso machine. But, using the parts on hand, we built an old-fashioned hand-crank coffee roaster in the carport.”

After a lot of “roasting and burning” coffee beans, they perfected the craft.

“Family, friends, and people we knew, wanted more and more. We decided to make a go of it, get a license from the state, and we upgraded to using a real coffee roaster. It’s been a good year so far.”

They will continue to use the roaster, Morrison said. “Nancy is teaching us about her blends and how to use the roaster. We want to get a good feel for the space here, before we think about making any changes.”

One thing customers will see is the addition of the new owners’ four “Rose City Coffee Company” blends, in addition to the twenty or so currently offered at Schondecken.

“We realize that there is an existing community presence that has been established at this shop,” Provencher said. “We don't want to change it much. This shop is so successful, as it is.”

If you like great coffee, go in and welcome the new owners of this, one of Portland’s first coffee shops.

Schondecken Coffee Rosters, if you didn’t already know, is located directly across from the Westmoreland Post Office, at 6720 S.E. 16th Avenue, half a block north of Bybee Boulevard.