The Urban Grind Coffeehouse in Portland will double as a location for Coffee & Power

With a name like Coffee & Power; an investor list that includes Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos and a co-founder who previously worked at RealNetworks, you’d think that the tech-oriented co-working space would find a natural home in Seattle.

But Coffee & Power, a unique blend of online marketplace and coffee shop workspace, is getting cozy in Portland. The upstart just announced that it plans to open its next location at the Urban Grind Coffeehouse in Portland’s Pearl District. It marks the third “workclub” for the organization, which was started in San Francisco three months ago by former RealNetworks VP and Second Life founder Philip Rosedale. (It also operates in Santa Monica).

“Coffee & Power is a great fit for Portland,” noted Dian Crawford, owner of the Urban Grind Coffeehouse. “Our attitude here is very much one of collaboration and community.”

Those remarks were echoed by tech blogger and startup guru Rick Turoczy who noted that Coffee & Power is the perfect establishment for Portland.

“With our independent workforce and early stage startups, this is the exact kind of venue that will help support and fuel the startup scene around here,” Turoczy said.

Now before the coffee snobs and tech geeks in Seattle get into a tizzy, I am told that Coffee & Power is actively scouting possible locations in Seattle as well.

Seattle's coffee culture is a secret ingredient to the startup ecosystem (Kurt Schlosser photo)

“We’d love to have a C&P Workclub in Seattle. We’ve been keeping our eyes open for potential spaces there and in other techy-focused cities like Chicago or NYC,” says Coffee & Power’s Jeska Dzwigalski, adding that they are open to suggestions on coffee shops that might make good partners. (I’ve got a few in mind that would make a good fit, from Uptown Espresso in South Lake Union to Zeitgeist Coffee in Pioneer Square).

The Coffee & Power concept is a bit hard to grasp, since it combines an online marketplace in the style of TaskRabbit and Zaarly with a coffee shop culture and co-working space.

Here’s how the organization describes itself:

Coffee & Power is an online marketplace where people can buy and sell small jobs, enabling a new breed of mobile workers to connect in a way that’s fast, low-friction, and fun. Coffee & Power’s innovative marketplace includes its own payment system, live communications and public chat, a game-like rating and review system, and a several real-world facilities where users can meet and work together.

In many cases, the Coffee & Power interactions don’t require physical meetings. But in others, including things like language lessons and Halloween costume design, members of the community gather at the physical space.

What do you think? Could this actually fly in Seattle?

To celebrate the Portland opening, Coffee & Power will host a talk by Urban Airship CEO Scott Kveton on March 14th at Urban Grind. Other investors in Coffee & Power include Investors include True Ventures, Mitch Kapor, Reid Hoffman, Kevin Rose, and others.

Previously on GeekWireBest coffee shops for work? Our 15 essential ingredients

 

Comments

  • http://twitter.com/mjmcdevitt mjmcdevitt

    They should put one in the old Elliot Bay Books location.  It feels like the perfect thing for Pioneer Square.  

  • http://twitter.com/mjmcdevitt mjmcdevitt

    They should put one in the old Elliot Bay Books location.  It feels like the perfect thing for Pioneer Square.  

    • johnhcook

      That’s an awesome idea to use the old Elliott Bay Book company for a Coffee & Power locale. Maybe they’ll be reading this and check that out.

      • http://twitter.com/coffeeandpower Coffee and Power

        Thanks for the suggestions, I’ll be up in Seattle in a few weeks and will be sure to check them out!

  • Java Space

    Ah, Jeez-Louise, will have to delete Urban Grind from my rotating coffeeshop workspaces in PDX now (after over a year of considering it my primary coffee workspace).  If it becomes a Little-PIE or PIE-adjacent hangout, it’s toast, for those who don’t want to cuddle up with that crowd.

    Please, don’t institutionalize any more tried-and-true indy coffeeshop/workspaces — next thing you know Backspace will be assimilated and ruined by some pushy mobile co.

    If these guys are funded, why can’t they go open up their own coffee shop?

    #bummer

    • Portlandia Fan
    • Dian Crawford

      Oh no!  I hope you don’t delete us from your Portland coffee rotation!  Ownership isn’t changing at all, we’re just welcoming Coffee & Power folks to use the space for meetups.  I’m still learning about how C&P works, but it’s different from PIE in that it’s for folks who either have a skill to offer or need help getting something done, not an incubator for new start-ups.  

      We believe the C&P peeps will fit in well with the mix of students and workers we have here already.Hope to see you here on your next trip.DianOwner, Urban Grind Coffeehouse

  • http://twitter.com/Quantum4D Quantum4D

    Coffee and Power is a brilliant idea bridging the classic digital/brick and mortar divide. I think it is strategically positioning itself to where it could lead the way with all sorts of computing everywhere trends… that said, if Coffee and Power is going to work in Seattle they’ll need to upgrade the ‘coffee’ part of the C&P picture.   I recently visited their SF coffee shop and here are my observations.  I’ve added half hearted suggestions since people who critique without offering solutions don’t make the world turn.

    Observation 1) The sign on the front door I encountered was scary.  And I was coming to the site after having learned about it on line.   I don’t recall exactly what it said.  But it felt like I was at the door of a private club.  Net effect was it felt like some sort of twisted jedi mind security trick than a welcome mat for a cafe.

    Once inside, I watched at least ten people walk by the window and literally stopped, stood and stared slack jawed as they all tried to figure out what the hell they were looking at. What is this?  Can I go in?  Is it an office space or is it a coffee shop?  CP will need to be more creative about how they inch closer (from both sides) on the line between a casual cafe that welcomes the world and a place where work can get done.  Given their location, they’ll need to think about a better filtering mechanism then what is now in place.  

    Suggestion: how about a security code at the door which online members gain access too (tipping more towards the office).  Go private cafe/club and maybe even get tax benefits of being a members only club.  Might work for the audience the current filter seems to suggest you want. 

    Observation 2) Beyond the door I was extremely disappointed by what a funded company with ‘coffee’ as a fundamental part of it’s identity offered as such.  If there were doubt about whether I was entering a cafe or a company camping engineers in a retail space they were answers by the barrista that greated me.  

    Coffee 1.0 at CP is, at the moment, is one of those office break room help yourself pump action coffee dispensers.   Offering cold coffee.  No cream to be seen.  Industrial napkins next to a clear plastic tuperware container with a hole punched in the top where I supposed (and did) put a buck for the cold cup of coffee.  

    Come on guys.  You could do so much better by setting up a table and, many, just maybe finding some service where you could pay people a few bucks to actually serve coffee.  Real revenue from selling coffee, pastries etc, should at least be a line item and maybe mean you could pay these people with real bucks.  Why not let me buy a scone with my C bucks off my mobile phone… etc… (of course it’s easier to dream than code).   

    So suggestion 2:  remove the paper that covers the front door, put out a welcome mat with a plant or two and just have a barista that can both evangalize CP in person and deal with the 1:10 disruptants who you can expect to walk in the door.

    Bottomline:  you should fix your SF office/cafe and have a real strategy before you go opening new ones in far away places.   Right now it looks like you’ll be taskrabbit with a mobile location slant that francises out to ‘real’ coffee shops.   Which isn’t a bad plan.  You have some real identity issues and questions to sort out and maybe more than one data point/location will help you experiment.  

    I look forward to my next visit and seeing more of your vision implemented.

  • http://twitter.com/coffeeandpower Coffee and Power

    Howdy! The Future of Work Conversation with Scott Kveton and Philip Rosedale mentioned in the article is happening Wed. March 14 at 6:30 at the Urban Grind Coffeehouse, Portland’s C&P Workclub.
    RSVP here: http://cp-urban-grind.eventbrite.com/

  • http://twitter.com/coffeeandpower Coffee and Power

    Howdy! The Future of Work Conversation with Scott Kveton and Philip Rosedale mentioned in the article is happening Wed. March 14 at 6:30 at the Urban Grind Coffeehouse, Portland’s C&P Workclub.
    RSVP here: http://cp-urban-grind.eventbrite.com/

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