Each venue offers its own take on the coffeehouse ideal and the customers vary accordingly. These coffeehouses and cafés mix characteristics of pubs and bars with those of restaurants. Although focusing on coffee and tea and light snacks, some also have a role as small, informal restaurants, offering a variety of hot meals, and as places for live entertainment, primarily music. Several coffeehouses have space for artists to show their latest works, many for sale. Increasingly, coffeehouses in Salem serve an important cultural function as centers for the community.

As a place for teens mostly, the IKE Box stands out as the place for the younger set who want to get out of the house.

“The purpose of the IKE Box Coffee Shop is to provide a place for community and creativity, especially among young people,” operating manager Mark Bulgin said. “The weekend crowd is usually a reflection of whoever is playing the concerts Friday and Saturday nights. The weekday crowd, especially in the morning, is mostly made up of neighbors who work nearby.”

COFFEE HOTSPOTS
Governor’s Cup
471 Court St NE
(503) 581-9675 IKE Box
299 Cottage St NE Bad Ass Coffee
4340 Commercial St SE
(503) 485-4495 The Beanery
220 Liberty St NE
(503) 399-7220 Bikini Coffee Company
2195 Misson Street SE
(503) 453-4062 The Blue Pepper
241 Commercial St NE
(503) 371-4600 Break Point Coffee Company
1120 Commercial St SE # 110
(503) 378-9036 Capitol Coffee Company
3922 Center St NE
(503) 316-1100 Coffee House Cafe
135 Liberty St NE
(503) 371-6768 Coffee in Motion
2420 Mission St SE
(503) 566-9085 Cravings Etc.
140 17th St NE
(503) 930-4285 Steam Heat Coffee House
3860 River Rd N, Keizer
(503) 393-4595
Drinks and food are simply a way of extending hospitality to those who celebrate local culture, whether music, art, movies, conversations, and ideas, he explained.

IKE Box
299 Cottage St NE

Bad Ass Coffee
4340 Commercial St SE
(503) 485-4495

The Beanery
220 Liberty St NE
(503) 399-7220

Bikini Coffee Company
2195 Misson Street SE
(503) 453-4062

The Blue Pepper
241 Commercial St NE
(503) 371-4600

Break Point Coffee Company
1120 Commercial St SE # 110
(503) 378-9036

Capitol Coffee Company
3922 Center St NE
(503) 316-1100

Coffee House Cafe
135 Liberty St NE
(503) 371-6768

Coffee in Motion
2420 Mission St SE
(503) 566-9085

Cravings Etc.
140 17th St NE
(503) 930-4285

Steam Heat Coffee House
3860 River Rd N, Keizer
(503) 393-4595

“Some of the connections are very intentional, through the youth programs that we offer. Then some of the connections are much more organic, a natural result of the diverse elements of the community who come into this space,” Bulgin said. “We also have several interesting groups who meet here regularly. The entire community is welcome and fairly well-represented.”

A YMCA group known as Senior Swimmers meet there several times a week after their swim class. Students attend a variety of education programs at the IKE Box including a media and video production class.

Meanwhile, an institution in Salem, the Governor’s Cup sees a lot of traffic from students at Willamette University, particularly on weekends when the on-campus café is closed.

“It seems every time I have been here I have met a student,” graduate student Bonnie Jones said.
Another student, Meredith Roberts, said she frequently comes to study in the upper loft.
“You can hunker down,” Roberts said. “I do it because I like the distraction. Background noise is good for me.”

Jones, accompanied by her laptop computer, said, “It’s nice to have the benefit of WiFi.”

Free wireless Internet access is available at most coffeehouses in town. Starbucks and the Borders bookstore café are some of the few places remaining which charge for wireless.

The Blue Pepper, though tucked away off the beaten path in a classic brick building, has the most space and ironically is often somewhat crowded on weekends. It seems to be the place to go for those with a laptop. Many days it has the look of a hip office, with an array of computers and people of all ages at the tables. A rarity in Salem, desktop computers are offered for those without a laptop for a fee.

Timothy Gilman, an independent contractor, visits the Blue Pepper to get work done for his client using his laptop and the wireless network.

“It’s easy to get things done,” he said. “The people who work here are pretty awesome. They don’t mind if you stay eight hours and they always fill your water.”

A college professor was recently seen grading papers at Coffee House Café. He uses the space to develop curriculum and read essays, but doesn’t drink coffee. Instead he likes tea.

“Always with the green tea,” he said.

Another regular patron of Coffee House Café lives downtown in a loft.

“I’ve always had a dream of living downtown and I love it,” she said.

One day she said to the barista, “Make me a coffee like I had in Spain.”

And he did.

“The coffee espresso reminds me of Spain. Everything is just so fresh and good,” she said after finishing her breakfast, which is a new addition to the menu.

The Beanery, with its years of history in Salem, is another well-known and popular gathering place.
“We come here to have good conversation and good food,” a student at Western Oregon University said.

Starbucks, though identified by some as corporate, expensive and trendy, is another brand obviously popular with residents. With two storefront locations downtown and several others spread throughout Keizer and Salem, customers continue to keep Starbucks as the juggernaut in the coffee world.

One coffee lover even mentioned Great Harvest Bread Company as a place to get a great cup, although seating and the atmosphere is a bit limited.

Yet while people try to stereotype the people who frequent a particular place, Salem’s coffeehouses seemingly offer something for everyone.

Joel Cleland, although frequenting The Beanery at the time, said, “The Governor’s Cup is a cool place to check out because they grind their own beans.”

“I go to all the coffeehouses,” Mike McFetridge said while at Starbucks downtown. “I have no particular allegiance.”