This fact can't be ignored ~ Coffee has fueled our history

“At right is Angila Pierce, owner and operator of Coffeezaun, an espresso coffee drive-through located on Pearl Street in Tacoma. (Photo by Bonnie West) (Editor’s note: This is the third and final story in a series about coffee. The main subject of this story is Kent Holloway, president and founder of Fox Hollow Coffee).It would be hard to imagine Americans without their coffee. It was the beverage of choice for American servicemen through world wars, has fueled student’s all-night study sessions, and everyone knows a police officer’s coffee and his donut go hand in uncuffed hand.What few realize is that it was the beverage of choice at the Green Dragon in Boston, a coffee house which Daniel Webster reported as the Headquarters of the American Revo-lution. What has revolutionized the coffee industry in the last 25 years are specialty drinks made with espresso machines. An ounce of water, steamed between 193 and 197 degrees, is forced over 7 to 8 grams of freshly ground coffee beans. The almost syrupy shot of coffee is added to heated milk, that is often mixed with a variety of syrups. They become lattes, mochas, cappuccinos or, left black, espressos. The machines also spawned a new industry for our busy, car-centered culture–drive-through espresso coffee stands. Hey, Jerry, how are you…hey! Get back here, thief! Angila Pierce, owner of Coffeezaun Espresso, leaned out her drive-through window to see where the tip cup went.A vehicle backed up and a grinning customer returned it.I shouldn’t make you anything today, Pierce said, chastising him. You’re bad!I know, repeat customer Jerry Martin laughed, but I want a non-fat grande latte anyway.Pierce opened her stand in May of 2000 in the Bargain World parking lot at 4518 N. Pearl St., Tacoma, the main drag to Point Defiance Park. She has worked hard to establish a place where her customers can get an excellent cup of coffee–and exchange banter. I’ve worked seven days a week and I’ve been fighting burn out, she said. But I’ve got to be successful. I’ve signed a ten-year lease here!Pierce said she started thinking about opening her own espresso coffee stand nine years ago after working in Seattle and Bothell as a barista. It took a job lay-off for her to take that first step toward owning her own business. I’m glad I did, she said. It gave me an opportunity to be self-employed, and it’s definitely paying the bills.Another vehicle rolled to a stop under one of Pierce’s two drive-through windows.Hey, Scott, I lost that picture you e-mailed me.I didn’t send one, the amateur photographer said, poker-faced.Very funny, Pierce said as she automatically prepared the drink she knew he would order.Over the high-pitch of the steamer heating milk, Pierce said it was through her boyfriend’s construction friends that she found out about Kent Holloway and Fox Hollow Coffee.He’s been there every step of the way for me, she said of Holloway. From when I found the spot to lease, to the espresso machine. Everything.She said Holloway worked closely with her building contractor as well.He saved me so much time and money. He really made me feel like he wanted my business and was willing to do what it took to do it. He was there with any question I had and was always so helpful. He pointed me in the right direction. I have to say he was my hero. Pierce said she’s been happy with the Point Defiance blend of Fox Hollow coffee she chooses to serve her customers.I first tried it at the roasters where I found out that the longer a bean is roasted the darker and more bitter it becomes. Most espresso beans are roasted dark. The Point Defiance blend is a lighter roast and very smooth. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like it, she said. I’m a mocha girl myself…double tall mocha, extra foam, no whip, no straw. Bill (Big Daddy) Parker is a big, friendly smile above a ZZ Top-style beard. Peeking out from under a car on a hoist in his Gig Harbor repair garage-Parker’s Service–with a wrench in his hand, he doesn’t look like the kind of guy who would own two coffee drive-through stands; but he does. In fact, he’s even partial to egg nog mochas.You want to know the honest truth about why I opened them? he asked. I was sitting at my desk doing the books one day, looking at the bank across the street and seeing car after car going through their drive-thru. I wondered what would bring people in like that.He had taken the gas pumps out of the gas station’s island after he bought the property in 1991, so there was a covered space there to put in a small coffee stand. He was located on the corner of two busy streets, Judson and Pioneer, and access to it would be very easy.I called my friend Kent Holloway and asked him if he could put a drive-through there, he said.He leased the spot to Holloway, who opened an Austin Chase Coffee drive-through in June of 1994. In 1996, Parker took the drive-through over himself.Parker said when Holloway decided to travel as an international consultant he told him, If you ever get into roasting, I’ll be your first customer.When Holloway was ready to start another coffee business again, he asked Parker if he was still willing to support him. I figured Austin Chase was so successful, why not go with the original founder? Parker said. He roasts a good coffee bean. When it was time, I just switched to Fox Hollow Coffee.So, have there been as many cars as what he had originally seen going through the bank?Absolutely! Parker grinned. The people really like the coffee. They line up every morning!In September, Parker opened a new Fox Hollow Coffee drive-through near the corner of 19th and Mildred in Fircrest using Holloway’s architec-tural design. The name on the sign is: William G. Patrick’s Coffee, which honors the names of men on both sides of Parker’s family who were known for their civil service to their communities in Minnesota.His drive-through building is an attractive one, with its copper roof and vaulted, glass ceilings but more importantly, it’s completely functional for the employees-which was what Kent Holloway had in mind when he designed them.These buildings revolve around the owner, Holloway said. They live and breathe that business. I wanted a high-quality environment, architec-turally attractive for the operators that is safe, considers the ergonomics of their job, and is space sensitive for the operators to move around in.Customers who park in the lot and walk inside to purchase a cup of coffee will find that the vaulted ceilings give the interior a sense of space. The walls are a honey-colored wood, and even the countertops are attractive, done in a faux marble fountain-style. But outside is where these buildings shine. The copper roof captures the sun and at night the lighting through the skylight draws the customer’s attention so that the building is as much the signage as the sign advertising the drive-through’s presence. I wanted the concept of the building to be fine-tuned for national codes, Holloway added. Customers can drive up on either side of the building, or park and walk in.These buildings are efficient and improve the quality of the work environment for the baristas (the proper term for the people who prepare the coffees). I wanted to create an environment for them to enjoy. But the bottom line is–the coffee is excellent.And to make sure every cup is top quality, Holloway makes sure the operators know how to prepare the coffees properly.My main focus continues to be on the operators; meeting with them in person, helping them develop teaching skills to pass on to their baristas. Does this man, who has spent years perfecting his business, ever get tired of drinking coffee?I like the product as much as I ever did, Holloway said. And I love a great drip coffee–black. I hope your experience at Fox Hollow Coffee is great, he added. And he means it. “