“It’s like going to your grandma’s house,” sophomore Lindsay Culver said about Pleasant Blends. Pleasant Blends coffee shop is filled with couches and tables and the room is sprinkled with seasonal decorations. A variety of coffee beans used in the shop decorate the back wall while the food and drinks are prepared right in front of the customer.
Pleasant Blends has been located at 9417 N. Newport Highway for 20 years. Louise Ramos owns the coffee shop and, similar to Culver, the right-at-home atmosphere was one of the reasons Ramos bought it.
“I just felt at home here when I walked in,” Ramos said.
To Culver, the thing that sets Pleasant Blends apart from chain coffee shops is the environment that comes with the place. Culver likes the comfortable and cozy atmosphere that the coffee shop creates, enough to go there about once every week. Unlike a chain shop, Pleasant Blends has a more personal and friendly ambiance.
“When you go to Starbucks, it has a corporate feel,” Culver said.
Junior Abby Pavelko thinks Pleasant Blends has a better feel than Starbucks because of the slower pace. Pavelko also appreciates the fact that it is a local establishment and likes to support Ramos’ business. She said the shop is special because of the personable customer experience. Once an order is finished, Ramos brings it to the customer, unlike Starbucks where the person has to retrieve his drink.
“I like that she knows whose coffee it is and she brings it to you,” Pavelko said.
Pavelko said service may not be as fast as at Starbucks, but it is worth the wait. The slower pace gives people a chance to socialize unlike a corporate chain where the idea is getting in and getting out, Pavelko said. She also said she believes the type of atmosphere created by chain coffee shops is not the same compared to Pleasant Blends.
“Starbucks does not have that homey feeling,” Pavelko said. “I feel like I don’t want to socialize there because it’s not as homey.”
The service Ramos provides for her customers is also something Culver mentioned in recalling her experience at Pleasant Blends. Culver said Ramos gets to know her customers on a personal level; when she goes in Ramos always asks how school is going. Culver recalled how Ramos cares about her clients.
“She was really genuine in how she treats her customers,” Culver said.
Before Ramos bought Pleasant Blends, she ran a daycare out of her home and decided she needed a change of pace once her husband fell ill. Ramos has owned Pleasant Blends for the past six years, and said she appreciates that her shop is not upscale but is a down-to-earth place for people to come.
Ramos said she continues to have a steady flow of customers year-round. The Whitworth crowd is always consistent clientele. Ramos notices a lot of Whitworth students who frequent her shop and even come around a lot in the summer.
For summer and winter, Pleasant Blends has a variety of specialty drinks to match the season. A long list of flavors decorates the front counter and the winter specials are already out. Drinks such as the Whitewash have white chocolate, coconut, vanilla and hazelnut flavors. The Santa’s Little Helper drink is a mix of orange and white chocolate, and the Snowflake is vanilla and mint.
Pleasant Blends barista Chris Verwer said one of the most popular fall flavors is the pumpkin pie latte that has real pumpkin pie filling to flavor the drink. Other popular drinks include huckleberry chai and Vicki’s Special. Vicki’s Special is named after Ramos’ daughter and is filled with English toffee, mocha and white coffee.
With all the flavors that cover the menu boards, Ramos is still able to remember which customers order what drinks. If a regular customer doesn’t remember their order, Ramos has no trouble making it for them since she knows what they are going to order as soon as they walk through the front door.
“Some of them don’t remember what they order. I know what they’re drinking,” Ramos said. “Just ask Louise.”
Ramos’ favorite part about working at Pleasant Blends is all of the people who come to her shop. It is not uncommon for Pleasant Blends to have many regular customers, and Ramos enjoys seeing a wide range of clientele walk through her door.
By Melissa Barringer
Photo By Jeff Ferguson