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Nov. 29, 2021

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Terrain Coffee Project opens cafe in downtown Vancouver

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Barista Emily Cortez, from left, joins Marty Lopes, owner of Terrain Coffee Project, as they chat with customer Todd Sturtz of Vancouver at the new downtown Vancouver coffee shop on Tuesday morning.
Barista Emily Cortez, from left, joins Marty Lopes, owner of Terrain Coffee Project, as they chat with customer Todd Sturtz of Vancouver at the new downtown Vancouver coffee shop on Tuesday morning. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Terrain Coffee Project’s cafe opened Sept. 22 at 106 W. Sixth St., in the space formerly occupied by Beerded Brothers Brewing in downtown Vancouver.

Owner Marty Lopes signed the lease for the space in May hoping to open on his birthday, Aug. 12, but difficulty with everything from fixing the plumbing to sourcing paper cups extended the opening date.

Lopes discovered his love for coffee in Spokane at Rockwood Bakery where he met his wife, Katelynn Brown.

“I fell in love twice with my wife and coffee,” he said.

He especially loved the analytical aspects of coffee and swiftly moved from barista to roaster. Lopes and Brown married and moved from Spokane to Vancouver in 2007 when Brown got a job teaching in Battle Ground.

After his move to Vancouver, Lopes continued working in the coffee industry in Portland at Extracto Coffee Roasters, Barista Cafe, and later started Roseline Coffee before opening the Terrain Coffee Project. At this time he’s the only coffee roaster at Terrain. He spends two days a week at his Salmon Creek shop roasting beans for his wholesale customers including Oracle Coffee Company, TwentySix Cafe and Moore Coffee Co.

Terrain’s sales steeply dropped when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. During the first week of shutdowns, the wholesale business declined 30 percent. Lopes secured a Paycheck Protection Program loan that created a financial bridge, but he realized he needed to be creative to stay in business. Online sales and local delivery were added. He also opened a walk-up window two days a week at his roasting facility in Salmon Creek.

Mychal Dynes of Little Conejo came to the walk-up window to get a cup of coffee and gave Lopes his phone number. Dynes knew the space at 106 W. Sixth St. was empty because it was on the same block as his restaurant.

When Lopes expressed interest in leasing it to open a coffee shop, Dynes put him in touch with Caryl Brown, a real estate broker for Robert Aschieris of Schofield Properties who manages the property for his family. Lopes pitched his idea for a coffee shop. They loved this plan, and Lopes signed a lease for the space.

“I loved the historical texture of the property. You can’t buy that,” he said.

Some of these historical features are exposed brick, well-worn wood floors and a bank vault behind the bar left over from a title company. A side door leads to a small urban oasis next to the outdoor space for Kindred Homestead Supply. This is where Mary Schofield, who lived in the spaces above with her family, kept her dairy cow. The animal roamed free and grazed in Esther Short Park, eventually causing a legal dispute between Schofield and the city of Vancouver, which had outlawed livestock in the downtown area.

Future plans for Terrain’s cafe include pastries from Jen’s Bagels and Pastries, a wholesale bakery Lopes discovered while running his wholesale coffee business. Jen’s will supply things such as Portuguese Bolo Levedos (sweet muffins), pop tarts and scones. Eventually, slices of Jen’s cakes in flavors such as chocolate espresso filled with coffee and vanilla brulee will be added on weekends.

Lopes will soon launch online ordering through the redy app. Using GPS, this app lets a business know exactly when a customer will arrive to get their order. He believes pinning down the time of arrival is crucial to a good cup of coffee.

Terrain Coffee Project’s cafe is open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. The shop is closed on Mondays.