By Nancy Tannler
3538 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Seven Days 8 am – 6 pm
Sometime in each of our lives we’ve been warned about the seven cardinal sins so when Michael Blair and Misa Kawada decided to open a coffee shop ten years ago they decided to honor the counterpoint of these vices by naming their first place the Seven Virtues Coffee on Glisan. Mike, in recognition of his years of studying Buddhism, yoga, meditation, theology and alternative healing, named them: humility, honesty, kindness, forgiveness, gratitude, compassion and patience. A good set of mantras to live by.
Only in the past five years did Seven Virtues Coffee add the Roasters to their name. It was one of the additions to their business plan that helped them grow Seven Virtues to the three locations they now have. The most recent addition is at 3538 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
“We opened just as the recession was starting to hit Oregon so it was hard to know how we were doing,” Blair said. Mike’s former occupation was as a social worker counseling juveniles and Misa was a student and worked restaurants. She knew about the work but running your own business is a whole other ballgame.During the early years the were at the coffee everyday, their daughter was born in the first couple of years and was raised in Seven Virtues strapped to her mom while she served the customers.
“We were uncertain what to do next when we found out about a nationwide volunteer program called SCORE–who offers free advice to small businesses,” Mike said. They had the good fortune of having a former accountant for Coca Cola as their sponsor. He taught them how to lighten the ship, look at the books and develop a system for growing Seven Virtues.
They added a lunch menu to the breakfast bagels and pastries they were already serving, joined a coffee collective and began roasting their own beans–things started to move ahead. They were offered an opportunity to open a second location in The Zipper building over at 28th & NE Sandy. (If you’ve driven down Sandy you’ve probably noticed this unusually shaped building and that the name fits.)
They began to make progress and thought of other ways to make the Seven Virtues better. Misa has a flair for cooking and she began to experiment with the recipes. “We used to buy all the pesto, hummus, sauces, dressings and pastries, but now we make them ourselves,” Blaire said. There are kitchens at both Glisan and Hawthorne, so they have space to make their own food.
Now all three locations serve a selection of breakfast bagels (bought fresh daily), panini sandwiches, pastries, salads, hummus plate. The coffee is a little more serendipitous because when they go to buy coffee they try to use direct trade as much as possible. The day The Southeast Examiner was interviewing we drank a coffee from Vietnam they had roasted. The woman who sold them the beans has family in Vietnam who own the farm. “We can’t always guarantee the same variety everytime a customer comes using this type of system because the coffee comes from all over the world. We do make consistently good coffee,” Mike said.
Another special feature is their chai that is house made by a gentleman from India. They’ve adjusted the spices for the expectation of the American palette but it is made fresh and not packaged.
The Hawthorne Seven Virtues Coffee Roasters just opened and they are serving coffee made in their new espresso machine–the pride of gadgetry in the shiny coffee bar area. The blonde wood paneled walls brings warmth to the industrial black and white theme of Seven Virtues. A comfortable place to try for your next breakfast, lunch or coffee break.