Caffé Affogato, located in the front of the quirky, open-market downtown venue called the Saranac Commons, is an Italian-style cafe, making its debut early this year. Stylistically simple and occupying a small area, the cafe serves a wide variety of beverages, including affogatos, tea and even ice creams. Eastern Washington University junior, Promise Boutelle, has lived in Spokane since she was a child, and has had an inclination toward coffee since the age of 15. You can head downtown and find Promise behind the counter, chatting with customers and making drinks.
INLANDER: How did you end up at Caffé Affogato?
BOUTELLE: We opened in February, and I think I was hired at the end of April. It’s a pretty new cafe still. So, this girl that I actually went to school with, Syd, she worked here from like the very beginning, before it was even a shop because she knew the owner. So I knew Syd, and I saw her posting on Instagram all the time of this cute little cafe and I was so jealous, so I would go in there and get coffee and I kind of just talked my way into it, basically. They happened to be needing a floater, someone who covers shifts every once in awhile, and so I did that and I got the job. I did that for a while, and then the manager at the time had to quit, and then I basically got all of his hours. It worked out pretty nicely.
Do you have any jobs aside from being a barista?
For a long time I was working the espresso stand at Eastern [Washington University], since I go to school there. I’ve worked many barista jobs, but right now this is the only job, and I only want this job because I love it so much.
Do you want to stay in Spokane after you graduate?
No. I mean, don’t get me wrong, this year I’ve actually really learned to love Spokane. I like it way more now than I liked it in high school. In high school, I hated Spokane. I don’t know, I see myself everywhere because I want to travel. I plan on moving to Denmark, I want to live in Canada, I want to live on the West Side — anywhere. That’s the only reason I say ‘no.’ But maybe later down the road.
What are your hobbies?
I love listening to music, I love going to concerts, I’m going to a concert tomorrow, actually. Purity Ring, it’s at the Knitting Factory. I like going to music festivals like Sasquatch, it’s my thing. I go every year. I love holistic medicine type of stuff; I like plants, gardening. I love like, I don’t know, I love nurturing my body. I love listening to my body, like ‘what does it need?’ or how to I heal it — oh, yoga. I love doing yoga. I’m that typical hippie girl.
Are there any current coffee trends going on right now?
Yeah, that frickin’ latte art stuff. We actually just held a competition, it’s a latte throwdown, I think it was like a week ago. Yeah, latte art is like a huge thing right now. I mean, it’s cool, but I feel like everyone tries to do the same design, and with me, I’m not that good at the free pour, but I love just making it look pretty. It doesn’t have to be that same flower thing, you know? I can do a heart, too.
What’s the most rewarding thing about your job?
Probably just building that customer-barista relationship with each other. Just really getting to know your customers as friends, or as people, because I run into them all the time because I work downtown — I almost live downtown. It’s just fun getting to know them... I get a lot of regulars, but because the cafe is in such a cool spot, people will like randomly just look into it. We get tons of those people, too.
Could you share a favorite memory?
I don’t know. I’ve had so many. I don’t know if I’ve had just one favorite moment, I’ve had a lot. Probably just like laughing about whatever. There are a lot of nice people and it’s just a good atmosphere. Not even just the people I work with, but like the people that work at Mediterrano, the bakery, the brewery guys — they’re all so fun and I feel like we’re just one giant family in there.
Are you a coffee or a tea person?
It depends on my mood, because I’m naturally super energized, so I don’t really need coffee. I mean, I drink coffee probably once, sometimes twice a week, only when I need it. I like both. It just depends.
What is your favorite drink?
I love yerba mate green tea. I love just plain soy lattes, sometimes with like honey and cinnamon. And I love drinking cold brew, only what I’ll do is I’ll steam the cold brew. It’s different than a drip coffee, it’s a lot better for you than regular coffee. I usually prefer hot drinks, so I’ll just steam it and put some honey and cinnamon in it.
If you could describe the coffee shop in one word, what would it be?
Cheryl Strayed’s 2012 memoir Wild, a story of journeying on the Pacific Crest Trail alone, greatly affected millions of readers worldwide. Last Thursday, the author spoke to a room of more than 1,200 for the YWCA’s annual Women of Achievement luncheon, which raised an unprecedented $285,000 to support victims of domestic violence.
Just before the event began, the Inlander had the pleasure of sitting down with Strayed for a quick 15 minute interview. Here’s what she had to say:
INLANDER: When you sit down to write, what does it physically look like?
First of all, I don’t sit down to write, I have recently acquired a treadmill desk, so this is breaking news — I don’t think I’ve told a journalist this. I recently bought a treadmill desk; the goal is not to get a workout but that you’re moving. I’ve been walking lately and writing. I do sit down to write also. Really, none of those trappings that Hollywood has represented about writers, I don’t do those. I don’t smoke. I do curse though, I’m famous for that. I really try to find a deep silence, I don’t mean in a literal way, I mean like a silence within the self. Writing takes an enormous amount of concentration and that is exacerbated by the kind of writing. When it’s a deep examination of the human condition, whether that’s my own life or mining my past and experiences and telling the stories or creating the characters and doing that same thing. So that’s hard — it’s hard to achieve that in my life as a mother, I have two kids who are 9 and 11, and also hard being an ambassador for Wild. I write when someone else has my children, when I say to myself “you’ve got to do this.” I love writing, I don’t love anything else quite the way I love writing. But I also resist and dread it and have a lot of anxiety about it. I’ve been writing a bit over the past three years. But 2016 will be a deep return to my work. I have another book coming out this month, but it’s a book of quotations, it’s not that next book. So that’s what I’ll be working on next.
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