When Andrew Thonney conceived of his Isaacs Avenue business, his first priority wasn’t so much what he would make or sell.
“I was on a mission to create a community,” he said.
Bringing people together over coffee made for a natural fit, and in May 2017, Livit Coffee opened at 1509 Isaacs Ave. in a building shared by Bicycle Barn, where Thonney worked for eight years.
The commitment to connections is reflected in Livit’s layout, which includes tables, comfortable chairs and a bar — “Nobody who comes in here alone has to be alone,” Thonney said.
To bone up on coffee operations, Thonney considered several options, such as studying in Portland. But he had a previous connection to Guatemala, where he’d been on a mission, and opted for a six-week course covering everything from fruit to cup.
“To me, the most exciting sounded like going to the source in Guatemala,” he said.
The connection still is strong, with Livit sourcing much of its coffee from Guatemala.
Livit’s menu is coffee-centric, with assorted brews and espresso-based drinks as well as smoothies and assorted treats — including the recently added espresso popsicle, the brainchild of Livit employee LJ Manning.
The coffee is roasted on site, and Thonney notes the location on Isaacs is a better fit for an operation that includes roasting than would be a spot downtown, as roasting entails exhaust that isn’t to everyone’s taste.
“It’s a huge part of why we’ll keep this spot,” he said, should Livit expand to more locations in years to come.
Thonney recently hired a fourth employee in addition to himself, and he said he has chosen his staff for who they are as people first, baristas second.
“Any 16- to 18-year-old looking for a role model, I’d be happy to point at any of the guys who work here,” he said.
To help boost business during construction, Livit recently partnered with DoorDash, an Uber Eats type of service so people hankering for a Livit fix can have it delivered. Livit also has a subscription service for coffee beans, which are delivered free in town on Fridays.
Thonney is enthusiastic about prospects for his business after work wraps up on Isaacs, as accessibility will be improved, and the bike lane out front will fit neatly with neighboring Bicycle Barn and Thonney’s own focus on positive life choices.
“We want to create a consistent, positive environment for people, particularly young adults ... A huge part of that is who you surround yourself with,” he said.