Coffee company founder dies

<p>In this 2009 photo, Peg Davis scoops exotic tea from a wooden container in the back room of Astoria Coffee Company at 37th and Lief Erikson Drive.</p>

The co-founder of Astoria Coffee Company has died.

Peg Davis, who started the business with her husband Rick Murray, died April 29 in Portland. She was 63 years old.

“We’ve known her for years, both her and Rick,” Connie Clifford said. “They have watched our family grow. We used to stop in there on our way home from school to get Italian sodas, so it kind of feels like a member of our family has passed.

“It’s very hard to think she’s not going to be there anymore. She always had really nice things to say, and really good cooking tips. She knew a lot about tea. She was someone who we became accustomed to, and she’s surely going to be missed.”

The business was started in 1991, when Davis and Murray moved to Astoria from Seattle. Quickly, they gained a following.

“Peg was always a breath of fresh air,” customer Brenda Penner said. “She always had a different look of the day, she knew her products, the ins and outs of every tea on the shelf, and where the coffee came from. She always put a good spin on things. Just a positive force.”

Murray had worked at the old Starbucks before it became an international giant. Davis worked in mental health. Living in Seattle, coffee was always a part of their lives. So the couple made the decision to move to Astoria in the early 1990s and open their own coffee shop and roaster. They eventually purchased the building where the coffee roasting takes place at 37th Street and Lief Erickson Drive. They lived upstairs. Peg Davis had described it as like a little neighborhood grocery store where she’d watched kids grow up and have families of their own.

“We’ve always loved coffee,” Davis said in a 2009 Daily Astorian article. “That was a major part of our routine – getting up and having a good cup of coffee.”

Davis and Murray had made that part of Astoria’s routine, as well.

After Davis’s passing, Blue Scorcher’s Joe Garrison stepped in to help while Murray took some time off.

“We served as the temporary retail outlet for the retail packaged coffee for the week following,” Garrison said. “My son Sam and I went in one Sunday after she passed, when Rick had it all shut down, and we were his assistants in roasting while Rick roasted enough to keep Blue Scorcher flowing and to set us up with the retail to keep his customers from drying out while he was taking his time off.”

Garrison and his wife have known Davis and Murray since they moved to Astoria in 1996.

“It wasn’t long until we crossed paths and started to enjoy each other’s company,” Garrison said. “If we ever found ourselves unable to get over the little day-to-day problems in life, a stop in there would help us to find the sunshine again. (Peg) was just able to always find it herself.”

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