Coffee is a commodity that we have taken for granted, sacrificing the artistic and nourishing nature over convenience.
Deborah Di Bernardo, owner of First Avenue Coffeehouse explained that by 2040, around 60 percent of coffee will be extinct. Di Bernardo points out how unsustainable the business model is in the coffee industry. The farmers are heavily exploited, the quality of coffee is mediocre at best, and it is destroying the environment.
Di Bernardo opened her brick-and-mortar shop to prove to the world that you can have the best quality coffee along with a sustainable business structure.
“Our coffee is the only coffee in the state of Washington that is both certified green and certified fair trade," Di Bernardo said.
Coffee is broken up into different tiers based on imperfections and oddities in the batch. Coffee is rated in a 100-point scale. First Avenue Coffee only buys within the top tier, which is 80-100 quality points. It is important to them to make sure the coffee is certified fair-trade, and Di Bernardo said she buys the coffee solely based on the quality of the bean to ensure the farmers aren’t getting exploited.
“[I hope to] change the world by changing what consumers put in their mouths,” Di Bernardo said.
When asking about the coffee and the process, Di Bernardo made a point to give credit to the farmers.
“Everything good starts at the source, the bean,” Di Bernardo said.
Good ingredients mean nothing if you can’t prepare it right. While perusing through the menu and display, the cinnamon vanilla latte, gluten-free vegan grilled cheese and frosted vegan brownie caught my eye. While pricey, being about $20, the food was well worth the price.
The cinnamon vanilla latte was naturally sweet, crisp and smooth. While I was drinking, I felt the love, nurture and care put into the latte. Taking a bite out of the grilled cheese bombarded my mouth with flavor. The pesto gave it spice while the vegan cheese gave it texture and the bread held everything together. Ending with the brownie, the confection brought about memories of joy and happiness, a worthy conclusion to an unforgettable experience.
First Avenue Coffee is a hidden gem, tucked away in the entertainment district of Spokane. Getting there is a worthy adventure to be undertaken alone or with others. Do not let money or distance dissuade the idea of taking the leap of faith to 1011 W. First Ave. This trek-turned-unforgettable experience gave me a new respect for the coffee industry. First Avenue Coffee raises the bar in every aspect. Whether it be the mission or the menu, there is nothing but admiration and respect for Spokane’s coolest coffee shop.
Ryan Liam is a videographer.