The pandemic has put a strain on…everything. Our simplest pleasures, like grabbing a quick cup of coffee from the corner cafe, has turned into a larger ordeal. Erica Escalante, owner of The Arrow Coffeehouse, took the COVID punches in stride and figured out a system to help Portlanders enjoy their morning brew and pastries.
Imbibe magazine assigned me to photograph Erica and her coffeehouse for a story on the rippling impact COVID-19 is having on the coffee industry. I am a smidge late on posting this- but you can still grab the September/October issue and read all about the changes the coffee industry (from a Burundi coffee farmer to a Portland coffeehouse) had to endure and the adjustments they all had to make to keep everyone fueled and comforted.
Erica not only transformed her coffeehouse to keep people safe (check out her nifty intercom system) but she also started baking for additional shops. Let’s just say, she stayed very busy all while keeping her staff and regulars happy. I found it interesting that hanging on The Arrow Coffeehouse walls, written in sharpie on butcher paper, was their financial breakdown. Erica was/is trying to teach her staff exactly what goes into running a coffeeshop, especially during a pandemic. No secrets, just education. I thought that was amazing.
My favorite part of Erica had nothing to do with the story, coffee or the pandemic. We had a conversation about trying on bikinis which led to her telling me about how she is teaching her little girl about body image and that she shouldn’t be ashamed of her body or size. (So Erica was gonna go rock a bikini with her daughter… hence the trying on bikinis.) Her words were very empowering, I loved it. I’ll take Erica’s confidence and words of wisdom wherever I go now. Thanks, girl!
Check out the story. Check out The Arrow Coffeehouse. Support local. Wear a mask. Be good to one another.