They’re getting their own spaceman.
The one in the window has been on loan.
This one, ordered online, is a replica of a costume from “Doctor Who.” They’re big fans. At least one of the three has watched all episodes since the reboot.
They’re into coffee, too. But it wasn’t until recently the Spokane trio decided – almost on a whim – to open their own space-themed coffee shop.
Spaceman Coffee, opened in February, pays homage to David Bowie – the three owners are big fans of his, too – as well as all things space-related. The new coffee shop stays open late and offers sci-fi as well as philosophy books for reading. Music for listening depends on which one of the three owners is working.
The Professor prefers Spoon, Mars Volta, Radiohead and A Tribe Called Quest. When The Man is working, expect to hear anything from Ani DiFranco to The Beatles to John Cougar Mellencamp to Queen. She isn’t The Weird One.
“I’m The Weird One,” said Kristen Black, a freelance photographer, barista and co-owner of the coffee shop. When she works, “I’ll go anywhere: Britney Spears to Amy Winehouse to Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.” On Tuesdays, it’s Tupac.
While their tastes might sound eclectic – there is, after all, what co-owner Kaiti Blom calls “the quirk factor” at this coffee shop – the focus is simple: quality coffee.
“There are lots of places to get coffee downtown. But our focus on quality absolutely sets us above anybody within a mile radius,” said Blom, who’s worked in the coffee industry for about nine years and also has experience with a chain saw from her time in the Montana Conservation Corps.
“I’m definitely The Man in the threesome,” she said. “We’re all pretty well matched in most areas, except I use the power tools.”
Brandon Nelson, aka The Professor, actually is an adjunct professor. He’s writing his doctoral dissertation on Plato. Those are his philosophy books on the shelf. He’s been into philosophy ever since he read “The Stranger” by Albert Camus when he was 14. Shortly after, he sent a “Dear John” letter, breaking up with his church.
“Brandon’s like the smarty-pants-stable one,” Black said. “We do call him The Professor.”
Blom said Black is also The Dreamer. “She’s the reason this happened,” Blom said. “She finds the bright spots in whatever.”
Blom is a 2006 Ferris High School graduate and longtime local barista who has developed quite a following among the Spokane coffee-drinking crowd. Being a business owner was never part of her plan, she said. But people were always popping the question: When are you going to open your own coffee shop?
Blom met Nelson at Revel 77, where they were both working. His parents own the coffee shop on Spokane’s South Hill.
Blom met Black due to Spokane’s one-degree of separation or, as she simply put it, “because Spokane.”
Black, who grew up in the Tri-Cities, moved to Spokane to attend Whitworth University, where she studied psychology, theology and music. After graduating in 2008, she moved to the East Coast for photography school, then returned to the Inland Northwest in 2010.
The trio was at Revel one day last winter when the opportunity to buy the small coffee shop “fell into our laps,” Blom said. The owner of Coeur Coffee came in, wanting to sell a newly opened outpost known as Little Coeur.
“So, we’re going to buy that, right?” Black said.
Soon after, the trio had signed a one-year lease with a second-year option on the roughly 10-by-20-foot space adjacent to the Bartlett. Spaceman Coffee shares a wall, doorway and restroom with the music venue and bar on West Sprague Avenue.
It also fronts the Richmond Art Collective gallery, where customers can sit if the coffee shop is full. There are four tables, bench seating and red-painted walls. Street parking is metered, but a jar for parking change sits on a shelf.
The inspiration for the name comes from 1972’s “Starman” from Bowie’s fifth album, “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.” It goes like this: “There’s a starman waiting in the sky/ He’s told us not to blow it/ ’Cause he knows it’s all worthwhile.”
The spacesuit in the front window is on loan from a local photographer’s Space Hero Mission Project, in which people can be photographed in the suit.
Beans come from Vessel Coffee Roasters, which is preparing to open its own coffee shop later this spring on North Monroe Street. Milk – only whole is available – comes from Pure Eire Dairy in Othello. (Almond and soy milks are available, too.)
If you want latte art, Blom’s the best, Nelson is “pretty good” and Black is a beginner. The three owner-operators have no employees. So, “we’re almost never here at the same time,” said Blom, who prefers espresso.
“They call espresso the soul of coffee,” she said. “It is the essence of the bean.”
If she’s going to drink a milky coffee beverage, she opts for a cappuccino. So does Nelson. Black does americanos. Drip works, too.
“We make really good coffee unpretentiously,” Blom said. “It is absolutely a science.”
At the same time, “We’re simple,” she said. “We’re never going to have a dozen flavors.”
House-made syrups include vanilla and caramel. And, “I’m probably going to figure out a white chocolate,” Blom said. But, “we will never have more than three or four.
“We’re just trying to make good coffee, live the American dream, work for ourselves” – and, on occasion, bust a move.
“Impromptu dance parties are always welcome,” Blom said.
“And they do happen,” Black said.
Spaceman Coffee is located at 228A W. Sprague Ave. Hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. On the Web: www.spacemancoffeepnw.com. On Facebook: www.facebook.com/SpacemanCoffeePNW.
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