Coava Coffee's Matt Higgins named Oregon's small business person of the year
Oregon's small business person of the year has a coffee roasting company.
No big surprise.
Coava Coffee's new roasting facility and cafe has a retro-industrial feel, flush with steel, pipes and coffee storage.
While one worker feeds small batches of beans into one of two roasters, others package and stack bag after bag of single origin coffee for distribution to stores and online shoppers.
“If you're purchasing or consuming a product from Coava Coffee Roasters, I've been on the farm working with the producer,” Higgins said. “We know every single person that we buy from. We're also bringing to the market single origin coffees so you can taste coffee directly from he or she how they intended to grow it.”
Small Business Administration loans allowed him to install the $300,000 worth of equipment and buy the building.
“All of his trends were going the right way,” said Jennifer Fern, a KeyBank vice president who helped Higgins through the process. “He was showing growth in sales. He was showing command of his margins, and he had an excellent story. You could just tell from his passion that he understood the science of coffee.”
From a business that started in his basement 10 years ago, Coava Coffee has grown to three Portland locations and a new cafe in San Diego.
And on the company's tenth anniversary, he was named Oregon’s small business “person of the year.”
“To be nominated was ridiculous,” Higgins said. “To receive the award as small business person of the year was humbling -- one of the more rewarding times of my life, and it was great to share it.”
The US Small Business Administration was created in 1963, backing loans through banks with longer terms, less requirements for down payments and a 75 percent guarantee.
KeyBank officials say their small business loans in Oregon have increased threefold since 2015, to $32 million.