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July 2014: A New Chapter

July 1, 2014

My former home: Portland, Oregon

I don’t live in Portland any more.

Wow.  That was hard to write.  I love Portland.  My family loves Portland. Some of the best people I’ll ever know are there.  Some of the best coffee in the world is there.  Some of the most ideal weather and beautiful scenery and amazing food  is all in Portland.  But you know what’s NOT in Portland?  Me.  After over 8 years, I don’t live in Portland any more.  (If you’re totally confused read this and then this).

And what’s really interesting is, I don’t live anywhere anymore.  For over 2 years, my family has lived in a tiny Volkswagen Rialta, camping out on the streets of Portland. (Go HERE for a video tour!)  We moved into the thing in preparation for a relocation to Colorado and an exercise in minimalism.  We didn’t know at the time we would be camping on the streets of Portland for this long, but we sure have loved every minute of it.  It took a bit longer than we expected to find the perfect-next-owner for our amazing little coffee shop, Speedboat Coffee.  But we finally did, handed it off on May 1st, finished up a few odds and ends, and are now living on the streets of wherever we decide to go.  Right now I’m at a cabin in Montana.  Next up is a rendezvous with some old friends in Yellowstone, followed by a visit to Oklahoma (where I’m from).  After that?  Not sure!  But here’s what we ARE sure of.  Wherever we decide to go, we’ll be seeking out the nation’s finest coffee houses and writing about them (sometimes here, sometimes other places!).  We’ll be visiting the most interesting places we can find too.  But most importantly, we’ll be tracking down some of our favorite people and spending a little time with them.  Then after we’ve ran at that for a few months we intend to settle down in Fort Collins, CO, where we will begin poking around at coffee opportunities and seeing what shows up there.  Maybe a new shop.  Maybe some consultation.  Heck, maybe I’ll drive a trash truck for awhile.  Sounds therapeutic.  We’ll just have to see.

Meanwhile, a few thank you’s are in order.  As we launch off into this next chapter, I want to thank all my amazing customers at Speedboat Coffee.  I’ve always been amazed and humbled that people would walk in that front door and give me money for stuff.  I tried to do my part by having a solid coffee program, decent food options, fair prices, and by hiring the best people I could find.  But the truth is, none of anything I’ve experienced that might be called “success” could have happened without you – my fantastic customers – coming in day after day and, $3 at a time, resourcing my dreams.  I owe you everything. Thank you.  And by the way, I hope you’ll forgive me for not making a big announcement prior to my departure, but it’s just not my style.  I wanted to leave everything in as good of condition as I possibly could and then just fade out.  I figured it would be my best play for accomplishing what everyone wants most, which is to keep things rolling along just like they always have.  Thanks for understanding.

SB  Staff final

Next of course, is my phenomenal staff.  Alyssa has been with me through thick and thin, ups and downs, for almost the entire time I’ve owned Speedboat.  She is now the manager of the shop, and defines who we are as much as anyone.  And she does it in a way that is truly unique and for which I remain indebted.  Alyssa, you’re the best.

Then there’s Andy, who is right at 3 years of faithful service himself.  Andy is the Director of Coffee, and makes sure we are serving amazing coffee each week on well maintained equipment with an excellence that I would put up against any shop in this city.  But Andy’s true contribution, of course, is his hospitality.  He has a genuine concern for people which comes through in every interaction.  Amazing coffee with matching hospitality?  Shucks, this guy is too good to be true!

And my newest hire which might just turn out to be one of my best is Michelle.  I only got to work with her for a couple months, but she has without any doubt achieved more excellence in a shorter time than any other person I’ve ever hired.  She is a voracious learner, naturally competitive, and cares about excellence.  All this with a humility that makes her teachable.  HOME.  RUN.

Finally there’s Dowry, Speedboat’s new owner.  I just can’t tell you how great it is to be leaving my life’s work in the hands of someone who shares my passion for coffee, for the staff, the customers, and the neighborhood.  Dowry moved to the Foster Powell area within the past year and was looking for an opportunity in coffee.  When we found each other it seemed like a match made in heaven.  And those matches usually don’t turn out to be all they’re cracked up to be, but this one has turned out far better than I ever dared to hope for.  The customers love her, the staff loves her, she’s making killer coffee and is a bulldog-tenacious fighter when it comes to making things happen.  Dowry, I think you’re going to do great, and I sure wish you all the best.  The transition has been a pleasure, and I hope that Speedboat Coffee is as good to you and Nate (Dowry’s husband) as it has been to Carissa and me.

Other folks I want to thank include the Portland coffee community who has welcomed me and helped facilitate my journey.  Skip Colombo, Matt Brown, Hanna Neuschwander, Will Hutchens, Sarah Allen, Marcus Young, Jon Lund, Nathaniel May, Ryan Willbur (at the time) and SO many more (I shouldn’t have started naming them!).  I owe each of you a debt of gratitude for being a part of my coffee universe, which in turn has opened a lot of amazing doors for my family and me.

And of course, a final thanks to all of our great friends.  It would be insane for me to try to name these people, but so many of you who have shared so much of life with us on so many levels….you have made our time in Portland very rich, and we consider ourselves wealthy from your friendship.  It is the greatest treasure we could have.

So what’s next?  Well, we have some ideas for revamping our online presence, so I hope you’ll stay tuned!  Meanwhile, if you know of anyone who could use some Portland-style consultation for their coffee business, I hope you’ll direct them to us at  We’ll continue dropping some notes here and there on Facebook or this blog to keep you up to speed on where we’re at and we’re up to.  Other than that, if I could encourage you with any parting words it would just be this:

Get rid of some stuff and live simply.  Do less of what you hate and more of what you love.  And structure your life so that the things you value the most happen automatically.

See you on the road….

  1. Freeda Goodson permalink

    I tried “liking” this, but it wouldn’t accept it. Maybe I’ll have better luck next time. Good luck to all of you Don! Proud of you and your family! You know Cameron lived in Ft Collins until just a few months ago when he moved over to Weston, where he works at the wind turbine manufacturing plant. He loves it there. Has a little apt. by himself and bought a Honda scooter so he can save gas. He still has Larry’s pick up which they put in his name now, so he has a backup for bad weather. I love these posts.

    s [] Sent: Monday, June 30, 2014 7:27 PM To: Subject: [New post] July 2014: A New Chapter

    Don posted: ” I don’t live in Portland any more. Wow. That was hard to write. I love Portland. My family loves Portland. Some of the best people I’ll ever know are there. Some of the best coffee in the world is there. Some of the most ideal weather and beau”

  2. Joshua Rivkin permalink

    It is still not real that your not here! Well, I am extremely grateful for you guys and I will miss all of you!! However, you never know what will happen, true statement!

  3. alyloblack permalink

    I knew I’d miss you guys but it’s only now starting to really sink in… Here goes life without yu! Wish me luck!!! Thanks for everything Niemyer family!

    • Good luck Alyssa…and wish us luck too. What are we gonna do without you?!? I guess we’re gonna find out. :-/

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