Walking into the new downtown shop, you are immediately surrounded in the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. Live music–complete with jazz piano and saxophone–combines with the general hum of conversation to create a warm atmosphere. In the midst of your busy day-to-day life, the origin of Margin Coffee’s name rings true, and this is just the space around the edges you need.
Margin Coffee, located in a historic building off the corner of Second Avenue and Ellsworth Street, is Downtown Albany’s newest coffee shop. Dreamed up by three friends, it is the product of casual banter centered around possibly starting a business. Jon Eick, former West Albany High School staff member and co-owner of Margin, details the almost accidental journey toward starting the shop.
“One day we just said, ‘Hey, why not? Let’s try this.” According to Eick, they lined up the details and climbed a few steps. “We found ourselves in the midst of starting a coffee shop.”
When first walking into the empty room that would soon be transformed into their coffee shop, the giant blank walls and empty space perfectly fit the friends’ vision.
“We’ve done most of the work ourselves getting it up and running,” Eick said. Most of the furniture which now fills the space was handcrafted by the founders themselves: tables, benches, and even the main bar were all produced out of their own handiwork. A grand piano essentially fell into their possession, free of cost, and aided in fulfilling their dream of having live music and adding to the coffee shop atmosphere. They worked closely with connections to acquire high quality equipment and coffee beans.
Margin is a self-proclaimed “third wave” coffee shop. Third wave coffee, as opposed to the first and second waves, focuses most on what Eick calls the “culinary art” of coffee.
“It’s the next step in coffee care,” he claims, citing close relationships within the hand-offs from the farmer to the roaster to the barista, and even further to the consumer. Rather than selling coffee simply for the sake of selling coffee, third wave shops like Margin work to create a high-quality product which not only tastes good, but is visually appealing as well.
Margin’s coffee bean supply comes mainly from local roasters and companies, such as Bespoken in Corvallis (who Eick explained to also have aided in their coffee training from the very start), Caravan in Newberg, and Intent in Gresham; Moreover, their local teas come from the Jasmine Pearl company, which is based out of Portland.
What does the future have in store for Margin Coffee? The owners do not have plans for new locations, but intend to expand their menu and outreach from their current location. After experiencing their first summer of business, the biggest thing they have learned is how to work together to create the best possible system, according to Eick. Each customer may have unique requests, Eick explains, so they’ve spent the past months learning how to save those fine details so as to not lose anything in translation between cashier and barista.
After having their start at the Albany farmers’ market, Margin held a soft opening in their present location while the finishing visual touches were made. They finally hosted their grand opening July 14, and an estimated 900 people visited in just five hours. After a summer of slowing down to experience life with room around the edges, Margin will continue living out their slogan and “taking time for what matters.”