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Phoenix coffee stand opens despite Almeda fire setback

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneBrenda Georgeson serves Jacob Harris coffee at Kraken Koffee near the entrance of Shppes at Exit 24 in Phoenix.

More than a year after the Almeda fire halted opening of Kraken Koffee, the coffee stand with its organic products is in business at The Shoppes at Exit 24 in Phoenix.

Owner Brenda Georgeson had a tiny coffee stand ready to open in just days when the Sept. 8, 2020 conflagration destroyed it and her house in Phoenix’s Barnum subdivision.

“I was ready to give up a week after the fire. I had just wanted to open up right away,” Georgeson said. The fire also brought a period when she and her daughter lived in their car, a camper, couch-surfed and then moved into a rental with her parents. They now have their own home.

But Georgeson began working on a new stand shortly after the blaze. She located a trailer frame and had welding work done on that. Craig’s List led to a small shack that had been built to be an egg stand, which the owner decided to sell.

Carpenters did a little work, but Georgeson estimates she did 90% of the labor to get the stand ready for use. That included plumbing and electrical work along with interior finishing. She found a used saw and got a $6 plastic miter box from Home Depot, she recalled.

“I don’t want to ever do plumbing again. I liked doing the electrical,” said Georgeson. The installation included four sinks.

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneBrenda Georgeson, owner of Kraken Koffee, prepares drinks for customers at the stands Phoenix location.

Georgeson had spent three years putting the former stand together. The loss included a $20,000 espresso machine, and she is now using a refurbished unit.

“I didn’t want to take on any loans,” said Georgeson, who used savings to get the current stand operational.

The unit is designed to be a drive-thru with windows on both sides, but the site location doesn’t allow that option currently. Customers must park and walk to the stand for service.

The site formerly held a Dutch Bros drive-thru coffee stand. When the Exit 24 interchange was rebuilt, that took away enough land to preclude a drive-thru with the existing configuration.

“It could be a drive-thru. They would have to reconfigure the space,” said Joe Slaughter, Phoenix Community and Economic Development director. Drive-thrus are not allowed in the downtown area, but they are allowed in the highway-zone that includes the location.

Dutch Bros removed the water meter it had paid to have installed at the site. Georgeson has to haul water to the stand and take away gray water. The owner gets the water from a commercial kitchen setup. She plans to restore the water and sewer connections in the future.

All products are organic, and the cups and lids are compostable plastic. Besides coffee drinks she offers bagels, muffins, teas, lemonades and smoothies. Georgeson would like to add organic breakfast options to her menu. Long range, she thinks of turning a small storage building on the property into barbecue stand.

Georgeson has lived in Phoenix for 30 years. Before going into the coffee business, she bought and sold used clothing.

A metal anchor that survived the fire is attached to one side of the stand. The anchor is also part of the business’s logo, which includes an octopus-like creature. Kraken are legendary creatures that haunt the seas near Norway, perhaps inspired by giant squid.

A 2006 made-for-TV movie “Kraken: Tentacles of the Deep” propelled the animal into popular culture. There’s a Kraken National Hockey League team in Seattle and a Kraken crypto currency exchange. The movie was the inspiration for the coffee stand’s name, Georgeson said.

Georgeson volunteered at the nearby Phoenix Fire Relief Center, which operated in the shopping center for nearly a year before closing in late August. She put her experience with used clothing to work there when she wasn’t finishing the stand.

“That was my fun thing to do. I did a lot of sorting and storage,” she said. She worked mostly in the back room, and when a client came in with a specific need she usually knew where to find an item.

On a chilly weekday morning recently, customers were coming by to get their hot drinks.

“I saw the place and thought, maybe I will try it one day,” said David Pacheco, who lives near Medford and visits The Shoppes regularly.

“If I like it, I will come back and will tell my family,” said Pacheco. Before he left, he discussed what type of specialty drink he might get for his wife when she comes home from work.

“It amazing. It’s good to get a hot, good coffee,” said Kyle Crouse, who is in the area temporarily and lives nearby. “It’s very convenient for me.”

“People who are traveling stop in. I hadn’t thought about that,” said Georgeson. Travelers coming off the Interstate from Portland, Seattle and San Francisco have found the stand, she added.

The stand is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

Reach Ashland freelance writer Tony Boom at tboomwriter@gmail.com.