I was born in Denver, CO but moved around a lot before settling in Portland, OR. Moving around expanded my appreciation for food and drinks. So I always loved experimenting with different recipes and creating meals from scratch using a variety of different fruits and vegetables. My real passion for food stemmed from being vegetarian and then vegan for the majority of my life. Learning to prepare delicious food with a plant based diet was challenging and really fun.
I felt right at home when I moved to Portland in March 2009. This town provided me with the perfect combination of love for vegan food and micro- coffee roasters along with a support for local and small businesses. I feel in love with the coffee scene in Portland and shortly after moving here started roasting my own coffee in small batches. I started a coffee catering company at 22 years old and started to roast the coffee I served on a weekly basis. At first I vended at street parties, farmers markets and music festivals.
After opening my first coffee and food truck I found the perfect opportunity to open a small vegan cafe and coffee shop in the Hollywood District of NE Portland.I have been growing and expanding what I offer at the cafe for the past three years while still roasting all of the coffee we serve and cooking our entire menu to order from house recipes. There are now 5 of us working at the cafe and the catering business is still going strong.
Nectar Cafe is a small vegan cafe that has a large list of offerings. We pride ourselves in serving house roasted coffee, a fresh juice bar and all real fruit smoothies. We also have a full vegan menu serving breakfast lunch and dinner. At the cafe we have a couple taps featuring local beer, wine and cider and two taps dedicated to kombucha.
All of our food is made in house and to order. We really try to cater to the vegan, vegetarian and gluten free population however our food is plant based and healthy so we appeal to all kinds of pallets. One of my favorite compliments we receive at the cafe is “OMG I can’t believe this is vegan!” or.. “Wait, did you say this was Gluten Free? Wow..” Be careful coming here, we might be your “gateway” to veganism!
One goal I have for Nectar Cafe is to upgrade some of our kitchen equipment so we can keep up with our growth. Our biggest challenge right now is to maintain our high quality standards in a faster paced and busier setting. Growth is such a great thing and it can also be a really great motivator to continually improve. Making people delicious and healthy food that is accessible is our day to day grind, and I am proud of that.
The Kiva Zip loan will help to replace some outdated equipment such as the old blenders and old espresso grinders. Some of our equipment has been through the ringer the last couple years and as I was growing the business and reinvesting in the business some equipment has been asked to really stand the test of time, and therefore needs to be fixed and or replaced soon.
The loan will also finance the installation of the hood ventilation in the kitchen. I have a hood in my kitchen but have not fully installed the ducting and the roof top fan and with the Kiva Zip loan I will finally be able to afford to do this work. This will drastically increase our food production capabilities. As a small cafe ventilation is very important and this hood will give us more freedom with the menu, what we can serve and how quickly we can produce the food we serve.
I willl also use the loan to re-frame our mobile food truck we use for catering. Our food truck was built in the 1970s and I have re- modeled the inside to be an espresso truck. However, in rainy Portland the framing that holds the food truck together has begun to rot. So the loan will help to pay for new framing for walls. We will salvage and reuse as much of the siding as possible however the loan will also be covering any new siding necessary.
If I was able to financially tackle these three obstacles- the small equipment replacements, the ventilation, and the new framing of the food truck I know that I could further expanded my business. It would take an incredible wait off my shoulders because I would spend my days focusing on the cafes operations instead of on the repairs that need to be made to continue at the rate we are moving and growing
A loan of $10,000 helps me to replace outdated equipment and install a hood ventilation in the kitchen.