For a traditional Ethiopian coffee experienced in a large café setting, The Service Station in North Spokane is the place to be. With a spacious seating area equipped with tables, bar-style seating and oversized arm chairs, this gathering place is the perfect amount of cozy and business.
Since 2011, Alan Roll has been a part of the team at The Service Station, moving from serving coffee into his current position as general manager.
INLANDER: How did you end up at The Service Station?
ROLL: Good close friends opened up this place, actually. Since then, it's changed hands a couple times, but I'm here because I love The Service Station. I was first hired on in January 2011 and I worked for about a year. [Then] I had a massive brain injury. After recovery, I came back to work for a little bit, then I moved for a year. I came back as a supervisor, and I am actually now the general manager.
What made you want to get into coffee?
I'll start by saying I've always drank coffee. I think the things that have caught my eye about coffee in the past is the art that can be intertwined along with just a simple cup of coffee. What caught my eye here was the statement about what The Service Station is. The fact that friends owned it, and also I was just waiting tables which I had done for some time, so a nice change of scenery was appropriate, and I couldn't have asked for a better scene right now.
What's the most rewarding thing about working here?
Oh, the guests. Absolutely, hands down. I have met so many new people, family, friends — I would not be here if it wasn't for the people here. I'm here for the people. I love people, I absolutely love people. I thrive on it.
Any current coffee trends you've been noticing?
People are actually really getting away from what a genuine cup of coffee is. A cup of coffee is what everybody drinks, but it's so done up now. You're not even really tasting the coffee anymore. Even just a single solo macchiato shot with a dab of cream and a little bit of caramel, that happens maybe once a day. You want a great cup of coffee and you really want to taste what you're drinking— I wish there was more of that. We are falling away from what an actual cup of coffee really is.
Do you have a favorite memory of working here?
I don't know if I have a specific memory. I have so many good ones, there aren't any bad ones. If anything, I would just have to revert back to my guests.
Have you had any really memorable customers?
Mary. I love Mary. She's a teacher, I want to say at Brentwood. I might be wrong on that, and I don't even know her last name. But I know her drink, I know what bagel she gets. She is definitely hands-down my favorite. She's brought me a plant.
What is your favorite thing to drink here?
Oh, it'd have to be my drink. It has actually gotten outside the counter and people actually come in and order "the Alan." What it is, is a drip coffee with horchata, brown sugar, cinnamon and a splash of almond milk.
What is your favorite food item here?
The chicken panini.
What are some of your hobbies?
Actually, I do some odd-ball art, I'd have to say. I like to decoupage many things. Just to start, giant canvases. I have some hanging on my wall in my home, like 4-feet-by-5-feet. I have a table top that I've decoupaged. I'm also a complete plant fiend. I even have one of my aloe vera cactuses in here. I love nature, so when the weather is appropriate, hiking, walking — all over the place.
If you could describe the coffee shop in one word, what would it be?