It started innocently enough: just two guys talking about their shared love of really, really good coffee.
But then one thing led to another. There were trips to Mr. Green Beans in Portland to talk about roasting coffee at home, and online searches to look for suitable home-roasting equipment. An outdoor patio space at one of the men’s homes got a few walls, some electrical outlets, counter space and then, finally, a larger coffee roaster capable of producing five pound batches of delicious, fresh-roasted coffee. Friends found out and started to request specialty items, including a unique blend made just for the Camas Athletic Boosters.
Eventually, the two coffee-loving friends — Brandon Pasa and Aaron Baldwin — started thinking about how they might take their hobby to the next level.
“There are some good roasters in the area, in Portland and Vancouver, but none in east Clark County,” Pasa says. “So we thought, ‘why not do this here?’”
Their small, mostly online roasting company, Hidden River Roasters, which launched last winter, has already attracted a few loyal customers. Many Camasonians have discovered the coffee at Camas athletic events, where the Boosters sell their special Hidden River Roasters “Booster Blend” to raise money for student athletes; and Pasa, a chiropractor, advertises the coffee roastery inside of his downtown Camas business, Columbia Chiropractic & Massage.
Having already built a successful business in downtown Camas, Pasa knew that if Hidden River Roasters were to open a physical location, he would want it to also be located in Camas’ core. So when a prime downtown Camas space opened up last month, the two men jumped at the chance to bring Hidden River into the open.
Now, they are busy converting the former B&B Fish Market, at 536 N.E. Fifth Ave., into a full-service coffee house with an on-site roastery. The new Hidden River Roasters location, expected to open in November, will be the first local coffee roaster in the Camas-Washougal area.
The cafe will serve coffees people can’t easily find in this region, including some of Pasa’s and Baldwin’s favorites from Ethiopia and Panama, as well as soups and sandwiches and, eventually — possibly as early as spring of 2018 — pizza and microbrews, but Pasa and Baldwin hope their new roastery will be more than just a cozy gathering spot.
“We want to teach people about coffee,” Pasa says.
Although many people in Portland may be used to learning about flavor profiles and bean origins when they order a cup of coffee, Baldwin, 39, a lifelong Camas-Washougal resident who used to teach and coach at Camas schools, says folks in east Clark County are just starting to realize that coffee is just as diverse in its flavors as wine.
To Pasa and Baldwin, who both live in Camas with their families — Pasa with his wife, Serene, and their two children, Torin, 12, and Savannah, 10; and Baldwin with his wife, Jenny — the coffees they roast are more than just something you sip in the morning to help you wake up.
Pasa, 41, started his chiropractic business in Camas in 2004, and says he loves the way coffee can stimulate the entire lymbic system and help remind people of good times.
“Our brains have the power to transport us to places and events in our memory when triggered by one of our five senses. Something as simple as the smell of a flower, a view of the ocean, or a sip of coffee can cause the limbic system to fire and flood our brain with chemicals and transport us back in time. It can cause a memory to be so overwhelming that we feel as though we are actually reliving it,” Pasa writes on the roastery website, hiddenriverroasters.com. “This is our goal for the coffee we roast. When sipping it, we want our coffee to transport you to those moments of peace — those hidden rivers — where you can escape for a moment from the grind and the busyness of life.”