The Hidden River Story and Mission Part 1
I feel that it is about time to share the Hidden River Mission with y’all. It is a mission that actually started when I was a kid. Let’s get into it!
Hidden River Roasters wasn’t started only to do it better, I also started this to make sure that what we do here matters to more than just our community, we have a mission to touch lives on the other side of the planet and everywhere in between. I know, it sounds a bit cheesy but regardless of that, it is true.
This mission started when I was a kid, every time a missionary came to our church I was the kid on the front row eating up the stories of far off places and amazing people. I couldn’t get enough of it but yet it was weird, I never felt like I was supposed to live abroad and work in that capacity. I developed a passion for business instead. As these things do sometimes, the vision began to fade amongst the busy times of life throughout my teens and twenties as I pursued a path in healthcare. The vision never truly disappeared but more or less hung out in the background just waiting for me to look a little closer at it once again. I always wondered how my healthcare career would tie into changing the lives that truly needed help around the world but I was never able to make the connection. I know there are some amazing organizations for physicians out there that carry out a mission of mercy to those hurting around the world but they just never seemed to be what I was to pursue. Please don’t get me wrong, many of them are made up of some of the most caring and loving people on the planet, it just wasn’t my path. Also, please don’t read this and think that I am touting myself as an amazing person or searching for accolades, I’m just me and I love what I do. I just get the privilege of serving with what I do, in fact there aren’t many professions out there that don’t have the exact same capabilities that my career affords me, we all have gifts and we can all use them however we choose. Anyway, back to the story. I forayed into coffee in 2006 and it was short lived, things simply didn’t work out between me and my partners at the time. No biggie, I look back now and realize that I was in the right industry but not the right time or venue. We closed after only 3 months in business (long story and don’t ask, I don’t tell it). As I practiced for many more years the vision faded once again until 2015 when my wife got me a small home coffee roaster for Christmas, a fancy popcorn popper really, and there have been days since that she regretted her choice of gifts but for the most part she’s good with it. Almost instantly the flame ignited and the vision began to glow brighter in the background until the moment, only a couple months later, it came flooding back and consumed my thoughts! Hidden River had been sparked but hadn’t really begun to take shape yet but the framework would develop quickly over the next few months. I would purchase my little Behmor roaster by February and I started “batch” roasting (Hey, I was just starting out. Multiple one pound batches were batch roasting back then!) I would then give it to family and friends to test and give feedback, most of the friends stayed as well as most of the family. They ones that didn’t were fine to go anyhow, just kidding, maybe. One day in early September of 2016 I had a very trying day at work and was on my way home when something caught my eye. It was a sight I had seen a thousand times, literally. I drove over the same bridge every day on my way to and from work but that day something was different. Near the end of summer the powers that be lower the level of the lake for various reasons but most of us think it is simply to torture of with the spectacularly bad aroma that emanates from the lake until it dries out.
Anyway, as I drove over the bridge I noticed that there was a river flowing through a channel on the bottom of the dry lake bed. It was the original Lacamas creek that had been dammed up by the mill way back when they used to use it for some of their processes. After a bit of inquiry from some of the old timers in the community that were also patients of mine as well as some officers on the local search and rescue dive team I came to find out that it always runs in its original creek bed even when the water is high and covers it up.
Upon seeing this river that had been revealed I was suddenly compelled to turn around and get a closer look. I parked Big Red, my truck and yes I named it, she’s family, and wandered over to the creek bank. I quickly became mesmerized at the thought of this river running under the lake I had seen so many times. As I stood there time seemed to stand still and I drifted deeper into thought about the idea that something can persist for decades and come out strong even though it is covered by something massive and unrelenting such as a lake. After about 20 minutes of zoning out my phone rang and snapped me out of my daze, it was my wife calling to see if I was alright. At that time I had a 5 minute commute and this time it was taking almost a half hour. I walked back to Big Red and headed home. The whole rest of that night I couldn’t stop thinking about that Hidden River (see what happened there?) that had captivated my thoughts and attention even on a day that had taken so much. I got lost in my thoughts and when I emerged I felt so much better, I had just needed that tiny little reprieve from the day.
For the next couple of days I chewed on the idea and then all of the sudden it came to me, Hidden River Roasters. Coffee was the perfect vehicle to take people around the world in their minds with the help of a delicious nectar, coffee! I started on a plan as I always do and built a roastery off the back of my house. I started the footers while my wife was out of town so it was only logical that she saw fit to go along with the plan since there were concrete structures waiting for walls in the backyard already. Well, for a while that worked out great. Big Mo, an Artisan 6M from Coffee Crafters, joined the team. I procured all the necessary documentation and licensing within a few days and we were off to the races.
It was just over a year from the day we went official that I had another really weird day at work that launched us into our next level. I got a call that morning from my wife that her car wouldn’t start and so I said that I would look at it that night. When I got home I found that her battery cable had broken at the terminal, now that wouldn’t have been weird if they hadn’t been new. Anyhow, I told her I would get it fixed on Wednesday and that the next day she could drive Big Red and drop me off at work. Well you know how the next day went, or do you? She did drop me off at work and I went to treat patients just like normal. About two hours into my morning my office manager told me that my afternoon was falling apart either due to patients getting sick or not able to make it for one reason or another. All of my afternoon patients rescheduled and I was left with nothing to do. This hadn’t ever happened to me before in over ten years of practice at that time. It was weird but I rolled with it so I called my wife and asked her to come and get me when she got a chance. She said no problem but it would be a bit because they were at the store looking for sushi grade fish, yes I know it’s weird but it is actually a part of the story. My son who was twelve at the time was fixated on making sushi for dinner, that part isn’t weird, once he gets determined he goes for it. He takes after his mother! A while later she showed up and I climbed into my truck. She informed me that the store hadn’t had it so we were running to the local fish market, it was really cool, to see if they had some. I said fine but I wasn’t going to go in, I was a bit spent by that time of day. We pulled up in front and I felt like I was supposed to go in and I figured it never hurt to say hello to my neighbors especially since they were only a block away from my office so I went in with my family. It was great, the people were really nice and did what they could to help but no dice. They didn’t have sushi grade fish, I’m still not exactly sure of the difference but I am not going to argue with people who are that skilled with knives that slice an atom. We finished up and started to walk toward the front door and right before we got there the guy said, “Oh by the way, we’ll be gone in a few weeks so if you need anything make sure to get it now.” I replied, “Oh ok, vacation?” He said unfortunately not, they had decided to close and their last day was in a few weeks. I offered my condolences and began to walk away. Now for this next part some of you may not like it and you may doubt but I was the one there and I know what happened. As I approached the door I was about five steps from the door and clear as day I heard God say, “This is your place.” I literally turned around to see if the man behind the counter had said it but he had already gone in the back. It dawned on me what had happened and I quickly replied, “No.” I’m not joking. This exchange happened multiple times on the way home and finally I decided to talk to my wife about it. The next thing that happened about made me fall over, she said it sounded like a good idea. I’m not kidding, it shocked me to the core. She is usually the one who says let’s think about it for a while and she tries to bring me back to ground level out of the clouds. We balance each other quite well. We talked about the ideas swirling around in my head and so I decided to go talk to the landlord the next day, who is a friend of mine, and a couple of weeks later the first Hidden River Roasters roastery and coffee house was born. After three months of renovations, my team and I gutted the building and rebuilt it with our own hands and we opened in January of 2018.
The reason for the coffee house was to be able to create a place where others could have that same Hidden River experience that I had over a year prior. I wanted to create an oasis in the middle of town where anyone and everyone could come and escape, if only for a few minutes. I wanted a place where they could find their Hidden River.
We succeeded, the community embraced us and the vision of Hidden River began to grow. It wasn’t long before I could see that Hidden River was becoming that vehicle that would allow the vision of changing lives on the other side of the planet to grow and become very real. We have partnered and teamed up with so many amazing people from first person importers who have become close friends to other organizations that are on mission to do the same as us that each and every day the mission and vision grow brighter and brighter!
Well, as has been said so many times before, The Rest is History! To avoid getting too wordy, I know it already is, I’ll save the rest of our story for another post or two. Thanks so much for sticking around and caring enough to read through our story! Onward and Upward!