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Coffee roaster owners plunge into Garland District

By Cindy Hval For The Spokesman-Review

From small-business banker to small-business owner, Chris Pitotti’s journey has led him back to the Garland District.

“I managed a few U.S. Bank branches, and one of them was the Garland Branch,” he said. “It was my introduction to the neighborhood.”

When he moved into small-business banking, he enjoyed working with entrepreneurs.

“I talked to business owners every day and started to understand their challenges and celebrate their successes,” said Pitotti.

One of those clients challenged him.

“He said, “Chris, you’ll never own this bank, no matter how hard you work or how long you work here,’” Pitotti recalled.

He and his wife, Angela, had talked about someday opening a small coffee stand, but after some research, they decided to take the plunge into coffee roasting.

In 2014, he left banking behind and spent six years immersing himself in the coffee business. By 2020, he was selling Pitotti coffee to wholesalers, but he wanted a retail spot as well. When the pastor of The Gathering House church in the heart of the Garland District offered him space, Pitotti seized the opportunity.

“We opened April 8, 2021,” he recalled. “It’s a great space – somewhere that brings the community together.”

Even better, Pitotti Coffee Roasters is a family venture. Their sons Emilio and Lucas work alongside Chris and Angela.

“What sets us apart is the passion we have for coffee. We’re super specific in the way we roast it,” Pitotti said. “Our beans are from Central and South America, and Northeast Africa. We roast them in small batches. Our coffee is light in color with a smooth, traditional flavor that sets us apart.”

They recently purchased and renovated a building in Sprague, Washington, to house their roastery and warehouse, and eventually hope to open it to the public as another retail spot.

Their wholesale clients include several area churches, as well as My Fresh Basket.

Pitotti said Countryside Coffee and Angela’s Blend are their bestsellers, but he’s proud of their decaf, too.

“It gets a lot of compliments.”

Also drawing praise are several unique drinks from their “secret” menu.

“Lucas is a foodie,” he said. “He gets his inspiration from cocktails and desserts.”

For example, a chilled coffee beverage, the Baklava, with its rim coated with honey and nuts, and cinnamon powder roasted tableside, tastes like its pastry namesake. Likewise, the Crème Brulee proved popular.

“Just ask for the secret menu,” Pitotti said. “We often get people who say, ‘You choose something for me.’ That’s a lot of fun.”

The shop also serves Revival Tea, and it takes center stage when muddled with rosemary and lemon in a refreshing Blue Tea drink.

Locally sourced baked goods from Twenty-Seventh Heaven Scratch Bake Shop and the Scone Ranger are available, and quiche from Morning Sun Bakery quickly sells out.

The Pitottis said they appreciated the warm welcome they received in the Garland neighborhood.

“We get to be ambassadors for the neighborhood and vice versa,” he said.

Angela nodded.

“We feel like all the other businesses are on our team,” she said.

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