Kobos Coffee (Part 1) – Helping write PDX coffee history

[Note: This is part one of a two-part article. You can find part two here]

If you were to write a history of the Portland coffee scene, the story would not be complete without a visit to Kobos Coffee. Founded in 1973 by David and Susan Kobos, Kobos Coffee was one of the first companies in the area to roast its own coffee, and has since grown into one of the largest coffee roasters in Portland.

Without knowing any of the company’s history, the first time I went to Kobos, I was surprised to walk into the company’s Vaughn Street café and be surrounded by what looked like the kitchen department at Macy’s. In addition to lots of coffee paraphernalia and an espresso bar, there was lots of brightly-lit and brightly-colored kitchen gadgetry, including dishes, linens and other housewares.

Inside the store at Kobos' Vaughn St. Café

I wanted to find out what the story was, so after “meeting” Kobos’ Kevin Dibble in Twitterspace, we arranged a time to meet and talk about the company’s operations. When I arrived at the store, Kevin, who is also one of Kobos’ roasters, greeted me and took me back to the offices. He introduced me to Brian Dibble, his father and co-owner of Kobos. Together, they led me through the roasting plant and told me about the company’s operations.

Our first stop on the tour was the coffee warehouse. It was spacious, with pallets piled up with large burlap sacks full of green coffee beans. Brian said that there were about twenty different origins and varieties represented in the warehouse. He said that Kobos roasts about 40,000 pounds of coffee each month. That’s a lot of coffee, and it goes to a lot of different places.

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