Aug 20, 2013
by JEFF SPRY CBN Feature Writer
When the bluebird sings, happiness rings. Hatching last month in Bend, Bluebird Coffee Company is a bright and airy alternative to dim coffee dungeons of the past, with seriously sunny views out onto busy Bond Street and aviary-like ceilings to relax beneath.
Owners Ponciano and Delene Montoya were seeking a new formula for their coffee establishment, one embellished with woodsy picture frame sculptures and local artwork to tantalize the eyes while comforting customers’ caffeine kick with a full menu of coffee beverages and natural sodas.
With its evocative logo of a 1947 vintage bathing beauty dipping a toe into a mug of fresh-brewed coffee, Bluebird hopes to lure java lovers of all ages into its cozy downtown nest.
“The woman in our logo is Delene’s mother, Esther Mae,” said Ponciano. “I’d never met her but it was just a classic photo and I thought it would make for a memorable, iconic symbol. You look at her and she’s so happy and it’s our way of bringing her here and having her be a part of Bluebird Coffee. She’s the Bluebird!”
Bluebird Coffee Company opened in early June after receiving a thorough three-month renovation by the husband and wife team.
“It was really an ultra-modern, sparse space when we moved in,” recalled Delene. “We wanted it to look like an old grocery or general store, something that had been here forever. The reception has been fantastic so far, with customers and visitors saying they can’t believe it’s here in Bend and not San Francisco.”
The Montoyas noticed that first people comment on the wonderful interior space, then they comment on the amazing coffee.
“We had an Italian family come in the other day on vacation and say it was the best espresso they’ve had since Rome,” said Ponciano proudly. “That meant a lot to me.”
While the architectural details may entice, Bluebird Coffee Company is, first and foremost, a coffee house and the Montoyas built everything around that simple, self-evident premise.
“We tasted about a dozen roasters in the state of Oregon before we settled on Water Avenue Coffee out of Portland and Hood River Coffee Roasters,” they explained. “They’re both independent micro-roasters which means they’re maybe roasting only five to 10 pounds at a time and they participate in direct trade so they’re intimate and familiar with the same growers for decades.
“It was important to us to make a statement and really wanted to do the coffee itself justice due to all the hard work that goes into its production,” said Delene. “We feel we have a responsibility to the coffees and before we trained employees on any other aspect, we made sure they were making the espressos exactly like each other to create that unmatched consistency, so no matter who’s behind the bar, you get a beautiful hand-pulled espresso every time.”
Delene grew up in Bend before her family moved away to other parts of Oregon but always yearned to return to Central Oregon.
“The genesis of the business came out of wanting to get Delene back to Oregon and wishing to have a business where people come to us, rather than us shuttling back and forth to clients,” said Ponciano. “We wanted something that would be part of the community that we loved and a business that will be vital and welcoming.”
While anxiously waiting for their home to sell, the Montoyas watched as many of the prime commercial spots got snapped up over the past 18 months.
“We wanted something historic and with character so we waited a year before we saw this spot,” they said. “We first walked in and immediately saw how much natural light there was and these great high ceilings and we realized we could make this into exactly what we’d been searching for.”
One of Bluebird’s signature coffee drinks is the Cubano, a hot espresso beverage infused with brown sugar and cinnamon.
“People get addicted to them so be careful,” Ponciano joked.
“We also have a marketplace area for fun seasonal gifts and wine by the bottle. The food here is locally sourced from the best bakeries in town like Sparrow, Fearless and La Magie, providing us freshly baked goods, both gluten-free and traditional. We have a very good breakfast menu too, serving Rockin’ Daves Bagels and Earnest Eats American blend oatmeal.
For lunch we make sandwiches using the same local bakers breads, Little Bites rice-wrapped handcrafted baguettes sandwiches and gourmet salads. In the fall we’ll have hearty home-made soups as well.”
Delene and Ponciano have both been life-long coffee fanatics and wine-lovers and that was another driving component of their Bluebird Coffee venture.
“We’re thrilled with it all,” said Delene. “We designed the space, built the tables and the counters and found all these cute individual lampshades paired with authentic barn lamps. Anyone can come in here, find a table to settle into and relax. Community is very important to us and staying involved locally. This is a gathering place where we are constantly meeting and making new friends. It’s turned into an enterprise centered around friendships and that’s a great founding basis for any lasting business.”
Bluebird Coffee Company, 550 NW Franklin Avenue at the Franklin Crossing Building in downtown Bend.
For seasonal hours and more info, find them on Facebook or 541-330-2100.