Ristretto Roasters makes its mark

| Print |  Email
Articles - May 2012
Monday, April 23, 2012

By Linda Baker

 

0512_Tactics_01
Din Johnson, owner of Ristretto Roasters.
// Photo by Justin Tunis

On a rainy Monday morning, Din Johnson, owner of Ristretto Roasters, is sitting in his newest café located in the Schoolhouse Electric building: a chic renovated space featuring old-growth beams, brick walls and a coffee bar fashioned from repurposed metal. Open since December, the café in Northwest Portland’s industrial district is the third for Ristretto, which got its start in the Beaumont neighborhood in 2005.

“We’re not mapping out a plan saying, ‘We have to be downtown, we have to be in Northwest,’” says Johnson, 45, describing the company’s organic growth strategy. “It’s more we team with local people we respect who have great ideas.” Johnson does prefer to site his cafés in undeveloped areas such as the industrial district, he says. “Those are the neighborhoods we want to be in — where people don’t have things.”

Portland has no shortage of cafés and businesses that roast their own coffee; one count puts the list at 40. But in that crowded category, Ristretto has carved out a niche as one of the few that is expanding and creating simultaneously high-design and community-oriented coffeehouse environments. “My biggest thing is making good coffee approachable,” Johnson says. “I want people to try new coffee without being intimidated by the people behind the counter. That’s my motto and that’s how we’ve hired people.”

Ristretto Roasters
Owner: Din Johnson
Founded: 2005
Headquarters: Portland
Employees: 25
Revenue: $1 million
Fun fact: 10,000 pounds of coffee roasted monthly

Last December, restaurant guide Zagat named Ristretto one of the 10 “coolest independent coffee shops in the country.” The coffee itself has earned national accolades: “What to buy now,” proclaimed national food magazine Bon Appétit. Despite the hip factor, Johnson himself seems steadfastly down to earth. A former contractor, the Portland native had roasted coffee at home for years before deciding to turn his passion into a profession. “People thought I was nuts,” says Johnson, noting that at the time, Stumptown Coffee was thought to have cornered the artisanal roasting market. On its first day, Ristretto’s Beaumont café, located “off the beaten path” on Northeast 42nd, earned a grand total of $56.

Seven years later, Ristretto, which grossed more than $1 million in revenues last year, has three cafés, a separate roasting facility in Northeast Portland, 25 employees and 30 wholesale clients. “Relationship-based” partnerships helped fuel that growth, says Johnson, whose wife, writer Nancy Rommelmann, does the accounting. Architect Jeff Holst, a regular at Ristretto’s Beaumont café, designed the second café located on North Williams Avenue, a bright and airy space that helped usher in Portland’s current modern coffeehouse aesthetic. For the Schoolhouse Electric coffee bar, Johnson hired Accelerated Development as the designer; the firm is the remodeling arm of Bamboo Revolution, a materials supplier that provided the bamboo for the Beaumont site.

 



 

Comments   

 
KATHY HAYES
+1 #1 RE: Ristretto Roasters makes its markKATHY HAYES 2012-04-27 18:01:17
FANTASTIC, I'M SO PROUD AND THRILLED AT YOUR SUCCESS AND HARD WORK. NEW YORK WOULD LOVE YOU. AS WE ALL DO. HUGS TO YOU BOTH. kathy hayes
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Business partnerships: taming the three-headed monster

Contributed Blogs
Monday, July 06, 2015
070615-businessmarriagefail-thumbBY KATHERINE HEEKIN | OB GUEST COLUMNIST

Picking a business partner is not much different than choosing a spouse or life partner, and the business break-up can be as heart-wrenching and costly as divorce.


Read more...

Fueling Up for the Climb

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY GREGG MORRIS

Rita Hansen aims to scale natural gas vehicle innovation.


Read more...

Photo Log: Shooting 10 innovators in rural health care

The Latest
Monday, August 03, 2015
007blogBY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

You may have noticed the photos of our rural health innovators departed from the typical Oregon Business aesthetic.


Read more...

6 key things to know about summer baseball in Oregon

The Latest
Friday, June 05, 2015
basedthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

As temperatures in Oregon creep into the 90s this weekend, Oregonians' thoughts are turning to — summer baseball.


Read more...

Department of Self-Promotion

Linda Baker
Tuesday, August 04, 2015

061715-awards1Oregon Business wins journalism awards.


Read more...

Reader Input: Fair Play

May 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Former Governor John Kitzhaber's resignation in February prompted some soul searching in this state about ethical behavior in industry and government.


Read more...

Downtime with Debra Ringold

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Dean of the Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS