If you’ve visited Tandem Coffee Roasters in Portland, you know the owners have a thing for records. “Coffee is very social and music is very social,” said Kathleen Pratt, co-owner of the East Bayside cafe and Congress Street bakery, where you’re likely to hear everything from the Beach Boys’ “Endless Summer” to an obscure Japanese rocker on the turntable keeping time with the whir of the La Marzocco espresso machine.
This spring Tandem pairs up with KMA, a Portland record and audio dealer, to fuse the two for you and yes, you! A new monthly coffee and record subscription called The Good Thing is like Christmas morning for wired vinyl heads. In its first month, the exclusive club has sold out, created community and sprouted a hashtag.
Here’s how it works: Every month a new record is selected from KMA owners Joe Kievitt’s and Sammie Warren’s well-curated collection of electronic, jazz and world music and from the Pratts themselves. A “fresh, new coffee” from Tandem’s selection of global beans is packed in the record box and delivered to your doorstep. May’s twofer was John Coltrane’s “Blue Train” album with a honey processed coffee from Burundi. An instant classic!
Before you dismiss this as hipster hogwash, vinyl and coffee may be the last analogue experiences left in these fast times. “The idea is to slow it down a little,” said Will Pratt, whose motto is “HiFi, not Wifi” in his unplugged cafes. Those that wield a French Press or Chemex and grind their own beans at home are likely to have a record player says Will.
As coffee enjoys a renaissance, records too have entered a new golden age. Kievitt — who hopes to open a by-appointment showroom on Munjoy Hill this summer, featuring records, audio equipment and audio furniture — says the concept is a remake of the RCA mail-order cassette clubs of yore.
His relationship with labels makes this club coveted. “Records that people have never heard before are being remastered and pressed,” said Kievitt. Plus, on the flip side “everything is better with music.”
June is sold out, but club membership ($30 including shipping) is open for July.
“This is not a money maker,” added Will Pratt. “If we break even we will be happy.”