Local coffee shop offers original latte art, community feel
By Ryan Cunningham ’14
Coffee shops are on nearly every corner, equipped with clever coffee pun signage offering convenient caffeinated pick-me-ups. So what is it that tempts you to stop in to any particular shop as part of your daily caffeine ritual?
Latte art and a jar of prayers are ways Coffee Villa’s owner, Linda Selivanow, tries to find her way to stand out in the crowded java landscape.
Selivanow’s son Matthew ’09 is the resident latte artist. His pictures crafted from steamed milk include hearts, flowers and web-like star designs.
Latte art is believed to have started in the United States in the 1990s by Seattle’s David Schomer, the co-owner and co-founder of Espresso Vivace, a gourmet coffee shop. While it is presumed to have originally developed in Italy, latte art took hold in the U.S. after Schomer brought back concepts he learned from baristas in Milan. Today the art is a regular feature of a gourmet cup.
Schomer hired Amy Vanderbeck, who previously worked at Uptown Espresso in Seattle which is well-known for its silky smooth foamed milk called “Velvet Foam,” to champion fresh designs. Pour milk foam slowly over espresso cream so the Velvet Foam, also known as micro-foam, gets under the cream and rises to the top of the cup. Next, wait for about 15 seconds then pour into the center of the micro-foam. Voilà—a cup of art. For those who have tried and failed to master the foam or artwork, this isn’t as easy as it sounds.
National award winner
Besides looking forward to artistic creations in their cup of joe, customers regularly visit downtown Vancouver’s Coffee Villa for their in-house-roasted coffee beans. Coffee Villa holds a 2016 national third-place award from the Golden Bean North American Competition for their three-bean original blend. The hibiscus, semi-sweet chocolate blend is called “Three Amigos Espresso.” They roast their own certified organic coffee daily and for other shops in Vancouver.
Jar of prayers
Last year, the business suffered a heartbreaking loss when Selivanow’s husband, Larry, fell ill and died from cancer. He was the dreamer behind Coffee Villa with plans to grow the small business. Selivanow is committed to preserving her husband’s legacy by turning her pain into passion.
One small offering Coffee Villa has is a prayer jar located at the front counter for customers who need a prayer to go with their coffee. When customers are struggling with something and they need an extra hand, they write down their name or need and place it in the jar. The owners or employees make a special effort to pray for all of the requests, according to Selivanow.
The camaraderie with customers is soothing for Selivanow as she grapples daily with her soulmate’s death.
“This is what my husband would have wanted us to do for people. Our customers feel we are giving them something that they can’t find in the average coffee shop,” said Selivanow.
She supports the community by offering 10 percent off of all purchases for active and retired members of the military and Heritage High School students. Selivanow also serves as a career mentor for juniors and seniors in high school through a local program called Catalyst.
The comfortable couches and fireplace exude a warm ambiance at Coffee Villa. This is a place where customers come to share an experience over coffee and conversation. It’s a community for Selivanow; it’s been her respite during hard times where she finds solace in friends, family and her customers.
Ryan Cunningham ’14 is an employment specialist at Clark County’s WorkSource where he helps youth and adults secure employment, develop career goals and receive training to develop employable skills.