The new semester is kicking into gear and soon enough, college students will be hustling to Starbucks before their daily grind. As the caffeine kick becomes a crucial part of surviving the day, coffee lovers make their runs to satisfy the lack of energy, rather than to appreciate a mug full of coffee.
Seventy-six-year-old Gary Tom Sawyer, store owner of the unique Tom Sawyer Country Coffee Company, brews and serves coffee to protest this habit.
He hopes to encourage Gonzaga students to take part in the booming coffee culture of Spokane.
“We invite [GU students] down to have a great cup of coffee just to enjoy the experience,” Sawyer said.
Three years ago, Kendall Yards developers Joe and Jim Frank asked Sawyer to bring his coffee from the farm to the Yards. Sawyer had already been roasting and distributing coffee beans around the country for years, but his love for “everything coffee” pushed him to serve coffee to the Spokane public.
Sawyer’s passion was sparked by his first cup of coffee at the age of 7, when his grandmother taught him the joys of java.
At age 19, he found a new family in the realm of bean growers, roasters, distributers and consumers. Sawyer soon opened and sold two fruitful coffee shops in Western Washington before bringing his services to Spokane.
The small shop and roast house, conveniently located at 608 North Maple St. on the north side of Kendall Yards, is the product of over 50 years of experience in the world of coffee. Behind the baristas’ counter, a different country’s coffee is served every day.
Venture 13 minutes on a bike along the Centennial Trail, or a take a 9 minute drive from the GU campus, Tom Sawyer Country Coffee is a convenient place to take a break from the college life and sip on a cup of Jo.
The first steps inside the small shop are greeted by the hissing of the steamer, time-telling pictures, vintage décor and the infatuating smell of fresh drip coffee.
During Spokane’s warmer months, the coffee shop is a quiet place to relax with a friend, a book or both on the front patio. Tom Sawyer Country Coffee is the perfect place to let the aromas of coffee guide inner thoughts and friendly conversations.
Whether it is to get time away from GU campus, quality time with a friend or an hour spent with a book, Tom Sawyer Country Coffee is the place to spend during the busiest of times.
Sawyer’s career experience has been about more than serving smiles. After reflecting on his life dedicated to what he loves most, Sawyer encourages young students to follow their own dreams, as well as their coffee cravings.
“I would encourage everybody to find something you really like to do and if you can, make a business out of it. Just put your heart in to it, it doesn’t have to start very big,” Sawyer said.
Brooklyn Popp is a contributor.