For some, a cup of coffee is nothing more than a morning staple, a steaming part of their routine.
But for Igor Anisimov, it is so much more.
“Coffee is not just coffee or my business,” he said. “Coffee is my love.”
Coffee represents his life in America — and it is what helped him bridge the gap.
Anisimov and his wife, Iryna, fled Ukraine due to a war in September 2015.
They arrived in Spokane and quickly became regulars at Coeur Coffeehouse on Monroe Street.
When the coffee shop closed unexpectedly in April 2017, the couple was devastated.
“I was very very sad,” Igor said.
Instead of searching for a new coffeehouse, Igor decided to brew up his own coffee and sell it too.
He opened Cedar Coffee in November 2017 in the very same building as Coeur Coffeehouse and has been pleased with not only the shop’s humble success, but with how it has helped him integrate into American culture.
Though his English is still not perfect, he said he can communicate with anyone with a quality cup of coffee.
Igor owned a few coffee shops in Ukraine and is glad he could bring that expertise to Spokane.
He prides himself on the quality of the coffee he serves.
“Taste and especially aftertaste are very important to me,” Igor said while sipping on his favorite menu item, an Americano. “It is what sets us apart. I want to be different.”
Iryna, nursing her drink of choice — espresso with a little bit of half and half — explained that they don’t cover their coffee in lots of sugar.
They choose to let the coffee itself be the center of attention, and believe that sugar takes away from that.
All the coffee, milk and syrups served at Cedar Coffee are organic and the syrups are made in house.
The menu is full of coffeehouse staples — lattes, Americanos, espressos, cappuccinos and mochas.
If coffee is Igor’s lover, as he said, then tea is his mistress.
“Coffee is for before 2 p.m.,” he said. “And tea is for after 2 p.m.”
Cedar Coffee serves 15 different kinds of tea, including reds, blacks, greens and chai.
“In terms of coffee we might be 15th in Spokane,” he said, “But in tea we might be number one.”
The shop also serves a variety of breakfast pastries, including a Ukrainian gingerbread flavored sweet pastry. Igor focuses on serving healthy bakery items to compliment his organic coffee.
In the future, Igor hopes to expand his bakery options. He also plans to someday roast coffee beans in-house, which he believes would take Cedar Coffee to the next level.
“We are very picky about what we serve,” Igor said. “And that’s what makes us different. Everything we serve is high quality and good for you.”
Personally, Igor and Iryna hope to gain their American citizenship, and possibly open more businesses in Spokane.
“I love America, Spokane, democracy and capitalism,” Igor said as his wife nodded in agreement.
The name of the shop, Cedar Coffee, is just one of the ways Igor brings his Ukrainian roots to Spokane.
“Our beverages will make you strong like cedars,” Igor said with a smile.
The cedar tree is rampant in Ukraine, and represents a long life. Cedar trees are young and green all the time, according to Igor. They are strong and hardy.
The shop, housed at 701 N. Monroe St., features a high ceiling and big windows to let in natural light. Tables and chairs are wood and decor is simple. Iryna said they were inspired by the French when it came to designing their shop.
Cedar Coffee is open Mon-Fri, 7 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sat-Sun 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
“My motto for Cedar is this,” Igor said. “If you love yourself and your body and you want a high quality beverage, then welcome to Cedar.”
Morgan Scheerer is a news editor. Follow her on Twitter: @_morganscheerer.