Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Todd Millar, owner of a rural coffee roaster near Yacolt called Pull Caffe, has been selling coffee out of a simple structure at the entrance to his densely wooded property.
Drivers who make it to the structure will find something unique: an honor-style system for paying.
No one works in the “cabin,” as Millar calls it. Customers slide payment into a locked box (or prepay) and pick one of the cans of coffee from the shelf. There’s no one there to ensure it works, but it’s a worthy risk, Millar said.
“It’s kind of endearing that it’s on the honor system,” he said. “We’re believing in people’s honesty. We haven’t had anybody steal any cans or be dishonest.”
Pull Caffe, 33111 N.E. 236th St., in Yacolt, roasts coffee beans with the world’s oldest known Probat coffee roaster, according to Millar.
Millar got the honor-system idea from an OPB show about pies approximately four years ago, he said. He remembers seeing a pie shop find success with the strategy, so he wanted give it a shot with coffee. COVID-19 prompting statewide precautions was the perfect opportunity because there’s no contact with pickup.
“We’ve had an abundance of people who want to avoid in-person contact but want to take a drive into the country,” he said. “People want to go for a drive and see the beautiful East Fork of the Lewis River.”
Millar started the program in March, and so far, he’s sold about 200 cans, he said. On an average day, about four cans disappear from the shelves, Millar said. He leaves a guest book in the cabin, and he regularly checks to see what people write.
“They say they love it,” he said.
But with the potential to gain popularity, Millar expects that thefts may follow.
“My feeling is if someone is really that desperate, then maybe they deserve some coffee,” he said with a laugh.