Coffee Girl Cafe
Coffee Girl Cafe sits on the riverfront looking out over the Columbia River and the tree-covered mountains of southern Washington. Walking into the old Bumble Bee Tuna factory on Pier 39, you might not notice the Coffee Girl Cafe right away as you walk through the cavernous former cannery. However, you will smell the aroma of cinnamon, homemade soup, homemade granola, or fresh-baked pastries wafting from the immaculate little kitchen. As the bell jingles announcing your entrance, you’ll be greeted by the fragrance of strong dark espresso, and the hissing of the espresso machine amid the sounds of laughter and quiet conversations. Without a doubt you’ll also receive a cheery greeting from one of the Coffee Girl crew. The home away from home for a number of local writers and artists, fishermen, river pilots, business people, and other Astoria residents, the Coffee Girl Cafe on Pier 39 in Astoria, Oregon, is a local treasure.
Coffee Girl Cafe sits at the edge of Pier 39 overlooking the Columbia River. When the sun is out, you can sit out on the deck and sip a great cup of coffee. I noticed yesterday, several tables were full even when the sun wasn’t out. Year round you can enjoy the view of the river. One day you might watch a giant tanker making her way up the river. On another, you might spot seals frolicking in the river. Last week the tall ships came to port followed by the beautiful giant canoes of the local Chinook tribal people who had come to reenact the first trade with American ships in honor of Astoria’s Bicentennial celebration this year. Inside Coffee Girl there are small tables for those who seek quiet and privacy, larger tables right next to the windows, for conversation and larger groups. There’s a great couch and rocker providing a homey, living room feel. The coffee table is full of magazines and our local newspaper, Daily Astorian and a copy of Rain, the local writer’s journal. There is also a beautiful counter with sturdy bar stools for those who may want to work on their laptops, read a newspaper or book, or just belly up to the bar with a friend and a cuppa. The setting is a favorite place of mine, and one that I encourage you to seek out if you already haven’t.
DETAILS OF THE CAFE. The cafe is open Monday through Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and on weekends from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00. Coffee girl serves a variety fine coffee drinks including, Cappacino, Lattes, Espresso, and house specialities, like the Lady Borgia (dark chocolate mocha with orange zest), Lavender Vanilla Latte, Almond Roca Mocha, Salted Carmel Latte, and other treats and teas. Coffee Girl also serves a variety of treats prepared by Debbi who is an alchemist with baked goods. She creates delicious pastries and baked good including: Marion Berry Coffee Cake, lemon squares, scones, cookies to die for, and coffee fudge brownies. Coffee Girl also serves breakfast and lunch specialties (breakfast bagels,quiche, hot and cold lunch sandwiches, salads) and they make their own delicious homemade soups (cup $4; bowl $6).
Coffee Girl serves quality espresso, using Seattle roaster, Cafe D’Arte blend. The Coffee Girl baristas prepare special drinks including Cafe Borgia, lattes, espresso, and Cafe Americana and a variety of fine teas. They serve breakfast and lunch bagels, sandwiches (cold and hot), and salads. Coffee Girl serves delicious homemade soup, including: Gilligan’s Island (curries and coconut flavors), Clam chowder, Broccoli Cheddar, and other creations of the soup meisters. All prices are reasonable, drinks range from $1.25 to $3.75; Soup, $4.00/cup, $6.00/bowl with garlic toast; sandwiches range from $3.50-$8.00. Coffee Girl is open 7 days a week, from 7:00 a.m to 3:00 p.m. Mon.-Sat. and from 9:00 to 3:00 on Sundays.
Without a doubt what makes Coffee Girl such a great place to hang out is the crew who create the wonderfully warm and welcoming atmosphere. Owner, Debbi Blissett, Manager, Tammy von Payens, Martha Stephens, Gage Villere (a personable and quirky west-Texas guy recently arrived in Astoria), Gretchen the Master Soup Meister, and Debbi’s daughter, Alexa all make a visit to Coffee Girl thoroughly enjoyable. Debbi, Tammy, Gage, and Martha make everyone feel welcome, and they will be the first to tell you they all really love working together and love making the Coffee Girl one of the best things about Astoria. Owner, Debbi Blissett shared that she loves her customers to be happy with their Coffee Girl experience. She works hard to please, making special treats for regular customers, and serving refreshments when local musicians perform there on weekends. All this in addition to the delicious pastries (cakes, cookies, scones, and other delights) that she takes great pleasure in preparing.
HISTORY OF THE CAFE.
Built in 1875, the Hanthorn Cannery is the oldest cannery on the Columbia River. J.O. Hanthorn and six others, founded the cannery in 1900 when the salmon runs peaked. The cafe gets its name from the coffee girls who worked in the Cannery, providing coffee and snacks for the factory workers. After the cannery closed, Floyd Holkom bought pier renaming it Pier 39. Holkom began renovating and restoring the historic structures. The cafe, which had originally been one of the cannery’s freezers, was converted into the Coffee Girl Cafe.
Originally owned and operated by Zetty McKay, the Coffee Girl was sold to Debbi Blissett who is Coffee Girls baker, par excellence. She has refurbished the shop The light, airy cafe displays artwork and memorabilia from the cannery days.
SPECIAL EVENTS: Coffee Girl features local musicians who play on weekends throughout the year. Last weekend I went into Coffee Girl early in the day, thinking it would be quiet and I could write. I walked in just as a group of musicians were meeting for a final jam session at the conclusion of the 2nd Annual Tenor Guitar Gathering here is Astoria (this story to follow). Setting up their instruments, they played and sang for over two hours to the joy of those who came in for their morning coffee and breakfast.
This Saturday, June 11, from 1:00-3:00, Coffee Girl hosts Salty Dog, a favorite of locals and a great music group. You’re welcome to come, there is no cover charge and there will be treats to enjoy along with that cup of coffee. In addition to featuring local musicians, Coffee Girl also features the artwork of local artists. Currently, abstracts by local artist, Christopher Lloyd, are on exhibit. Christopher is the owner of Columbia River Ecotours, also located on Pier 39. The Coffee Girl logo was designed by local artist, Roger McKay. Some of the signage is the work of Tammy von Payens, the Coffee Girl Manager. She tells me that the Annual Barista’s Art Exhibit and Sale is coming up this summer. This is a great place to come, and you never know who you might find here. Right now there is an artist who comes in regularly to paint using coffee as her medium. Be sure to stop by and find out for yourself how special Astoria’s Coffee Girl is.