North Portland coffee shop crosses the river

Award-winning barista Kevin Fuller’s Albina Press Coffee recently opened its first Vancouver location

Albina Press
Courtesy of Jake Thompson. Kevin Fuller and his girlfriend Joana O’Connor recently opened their third Albina Press Coffee shop, the first one to be located in Vancouver. Pictured, from left to right, are David Matoba, Joana O’Connor, Christopher O’Connor and Kevin Fuller.

Portland’s popular Albina Press Coffee shop has expanded across the Columbia River into Vancouver.

The coffee shop opened in December and is located in the Vancouver Heights neighborhood at 602 N. Devine Road. The Vancouver location, owned by award-winning barista Kevin Fuller, is the third in his growing business.

“We really love the feel of Vancouver,” said Fuller, who lives with his girlfriend Joana O’Connor who grew up in Vancouver and is also his business partner. “We live here and are invested in the community. The people are friendly and the pace is great. The family atmosphere and sense of community are part of the reason we decided to expand. We are finding that one out of every two people that come in to the coffee shop haven’t been before, but in two short months, we are already seeing regulars and repeat business.”

The original Albina Press, located in North Portland’s Albina neighborhood, opened in 2004. Fuller, a former successful stockbroker, came into the coffee business in what he refers to as the “third wave of coffee – the first wave being your grandmother’s coffee, the second being the Starbucks era where people discovered lattes and mochas and coffee shops, and the third wave becoming more about the coffee. The beans, the way it is roasted, flavor and the art of creating a cup of coffee. The skill involved in perfecting that cup of coffee as well as the art of the pour.”

The second shop, located in the trendy Hawthorne neighborhood, opened in 2008. With no website or social media to this day, both coffee shops are thriving and are well known by reputation and word of mouth. Highly regarded within the coffee community, many of Fuller’s former employees and managers, like award-winning barista Billy Wilson, who was Fuller’s very first hire, have gone on to open their own coffee shops. Wilson now has five shops of his own.

Albina Press has perfected the art of creating a cup of coffee. Every cup has a special unique design that is a pure work of art. Fuller, a former Barista Competitor, has traveled all over the world to compete in contests, and it’s clear from all the trophies he and his team of expert baristas have accrued that they take pride in every pour.

“I personally train every barista that comes to work for me,” Fuller said. “It can take months to perfect the perfect pour and for them to be ready to work for the public. Our Vancouver shop has six employees who also rotate to the other shops, including myself and managers Joana O’Connor and Barista David Matoba who has worked with me for the past six years. Matoba will eventually move on and open his own shop. I am excited that half a dozen of the guys working with me now and about a dozen of my former employees have started their own coffee businesses.”

“We use and sell Coava coffee beans that we have shipped here from Honduras,” Fuller continued. “The only place in the world you can get these beans is in Honduras. Joana and I actually traveled to the farm in Honduras, met Pompilloi Ramos and his family, stayed in his house, picked his beans and love that we know we are helping his business by selling his product here in the United States.”

All three of the Albina Press shops offer local artwork that is on display and for sale. Fuller has had a local curator friend who has handled all the artwork and artists for more than 10 years.

“We use a local Portland bakery, Crema, for our pastries and Bowery Bagels also out of Portland, as well as Tao of Tea,” Fuller said. “Keeping everything local is important to us.”

Albina Press is open daily from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and most days Fuller and O’Connor are there working alongside his team of baristas who are more of a family than employees. Watching his business grow and his employees move on for the “love of coffee” really excites this proud business owner.

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