Local roasting company Relevant Coffee opens cafe in Uptown Village

By Troy Brynelson, Columbian staff writer

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A new coffee shop in Uptown Village doesn’t have a particularly descriptive name, but its owner hopes people will always find it relatable.

“Coffee is something we can all relate to,” said Mitch Montgomery, co-owner of Relevant Coffee. “(It is) really relevant to my life, it’s something I think about right when I wake up. I think most people do. I love providing that for somebody.”

Relevant Coffee opened its doors last week with a space at 100 E. 19th St., Suite 500. The cafe is compact, favoring the grab-and-go coffee drinker, but it still offers the wide selection of caffeinated drinks we’ve come to expect.

While the cafe is new, Relevant Coffee has been roasting coffee beans and wholesaling to local grocery stores for the past two years. Montgomery, 35, owns the company with his wife and said the new space offers a chance to interact with customers.

“The retail space gives us a voice for what our own product is. It lets me control all the variables, it lets me control the taste,” he said. “Without me having my own space, that job becomes a lot harder. I can’t make sure another person’s employees are doing it right every time.”

Delivering that taste is an important aspect for Montgomery, whose life has revolved around coffee for years.

Born in Issaquah, Montgomery said his first jobs as a teenager were in cafes making espresso. He earned a degree in hospitality business management from Washington State University and went to work for a hotel chain in Phoenix, Ariz. — but he still spent a lot of time in hotel coffee shops.

“I always found myself gravitating toward the coffee shop. Whenever they needed help in there, they said, ‘Mitch knows how to make coffee, just send him over,’ ” he said. “I would teach the baristas there how to make cappuccinos, and so I always stuck with that.”

That eventually led to a stint managing a coffee shop in the desert city, which itself led to a weeklong trip in Seattle learning to roast coffee. There, he decided to start Relevant Coffee.

“I had that whole awakening moment where you taste the cup and you’re like, ‘this is what coffee can be — didn’t even realize it,’ ” he said.

In Uptown Village, Montgomery said, he hopes to gain a foothold within an up-and-coming neighborhood. Given coffee’s popularity, and the numerous shops already in the Portland metro area, Montgomery said he hopes to be distinguished by passion and a welcoming environment.

“It has been my mantra to be super nice and open and be transparent about the process” of making coffee, he said. “We’re very welcoming, we want people to come in and feel like they’re home at our shop.”

The coffee shop will be open 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays.