Shift Drinks: Kathleen Pratt


Along with her husband Will, Kathleen Pratt owns and operates Tandem Coffee Roasters (in Portland's East Bayside neighborhood) and Tandem Cafe and Bakery (on Congress Street). She is pictured here with a Remember the Maine. 

Why did you select a Remember the Maine? 

When I lived in San Francisco, there was this bar called the Olympic and I discovered a drink called the Blood and Sand. It was Cherry Heering, I think it has a little bit of Absinthe, sweet vermouth and Scotch. I really hate smoked things because I had a bad Mescal night once. [laughs] I was surprised that I liked it, but then I found the Remember the Maine, which is a similar drink but it is made with rye instead of the Scotch so I remember it even more. It is just kind of a nostalgic thing because it is the first cocktail that I truly loved when I started to get into cocktails back in my mid-20s.

What I find fascinating about Tandem is that—outside of the coffee, which is great—you have sort have built a micro-culture around this place. I heard about Tandem before I even knew about your coffee. It was a place to go, to be. Was it a conscious decision to develop that? 

We definitely had an environment that we wanted to create. In opening a cafe, I remember sitting down and asking, "What is it that we want to make here?" We want people to feel like they are stepping into our home, to create an intimate setting where people can meet each other. The whole reason I was drawn to coffee in the first place was my first cafe job. There, I had found a sense of community. But this place took on its own thing completely.

With no disrespect to any of the great coffee shops here in town, it felt for a while like Portland cafes were stuck and had stopped developing after the 90s. There were just…

Coffee houses, yeah. You go get a coffee, get on the Internet and sit in a big comfy overstuffed couch. Living in San Francisco and New York, we had definitely taken things that we loved about places that we worked or visited and that helped to mold the design of our spaces. It is what really helped us decide that we wanted to have the roasting process right here and visible in our building. It has definitely driven the way we have gone about things. And it is for that very reason that we don't offer the Internet. It helps people to sit down and enjoy their cup of coffee and talk about it. People come for that reason, I think. Sometimes you will see somebody come in, look around, and realize that it isn't for them, and fortunately Portland has different places that they can find.

You have partnered with Bunker Brewing to make a beer in the past. How do you find the industry community here in Portland? 

The industry has been amazing. I love being in this industry because you find this immediate family. People are really supportive and collaborations here are really exciting. We made that beer with Bunker, and we have been involved with Family Feast and Pocket Brunch. It is awesome that we can offer this product and join up with the culinary world to collaborate. I found that in New York and San Francisco too, where I realized that coffee is a part of this whole world. It excited me and I am really happy that it exists in Portland too. It is supportive and inviting.

NOTE: This interview originally ran in the Summer of 2014.