Astoria Coffee Co., still closed to the public but churning out beans and grounds, has new owners.
Rick Murray and his wife, Peg Davis, founded the Uppertown roaster nearly 30 years ago after moving from Seattle. Murray kept running the business after her death in 2014, but eventually looked to sell.
Murray found buyers in fellow former Seattleites Sara Moot and Pete Aiken. The couple moved into the same apartment above the storefront Murray and Davis once lived in on Lief Erikson Drive and 37th Street and have been learning the business.
Moot, an Oregon native, first worked at Allann Bros. Coffee in Corvallis and ran restaurants in Seattle. Aiken worked in information technology for a law firm.
Several years ago, Aiken met someone who roasted coffee at home. The couple caught the itch, visited coffee plantations around the world and eventually decided they wanted a coffee company.
Murray had roasted for Starbucks when it had but a few locations in Seattle. A fellow roaster he trained told the couple about the opportunity in Astoria, Aiken said.
“He was like, ‘Well, the guy who trained me 20-something years ago, he might be getting ready to retire,’” Aiken said. “And so we ended up coming down here for the FisherPoets (Gathering), and stopped in and met him and started talking, and eventually it all worked out.”
Murray has been training the couple on the small-batch Probat coffee roaster he has used over the decades to offer upward of 30 varieties out of his store. The shop deals in coffee, brewing gear, Murray’s custom tea mixes, beans, grains, seeds, nuts, spices, chocolates, Astoria books and other merchandise.
Murray closed the doors after the onset of the coronavirus. Moot and Aiken have kept the store closed to the public, selling over the phone, online at astoriacoffee.co and through a bulk coffee vending machine Murray installed on 37th Street.
The couple has big plans for Astoria Coffee once the virus allows, including coffee drinks and a restart of the market Murray had begun.
“We definitely want to make it more like a store and a place that you’d want to come and be a part of the community,” Moot said. “But we’re kind of doing a wait-and-see right now.”
In the meantime, they are focused on slowly renovating the building, emphasizing online sales and learning about all of Murray’s regulars.
“When the day comes that COVID is not the risk that it is, we’re looking forward to having people come back in,” Aiken said.