Seth Clark, who did marketing and research for a commercial real estate in Portland, and his wife Melissa Clark, a former licensed massage therapist, were newlyweds who took a leap of faith at the start of the Great Recession.
They moved to Tahoe in 2007, where Seth had gotten his BA in Business Administration at Sierra Nevada University several years earlier, to start a coffee shop. But their plan did not go as intended, given the scarcity of financing. It was not until 2010 that they purchased Creswell Coffee Company, a coffee shop in Creswell marketed for roughly $50,000 on Craigslist and whose name changed to Blue Valley Bistro in 2018. The establishment became the first of four businesses they eventually owned: Espresso 58, a drive-through in Pleasant Hill; C.C. Ryder, a mobile coffee cart in Eugene; and Blue Valley Bistro in Coburg.
Since its start, Blue Valley Bistro in Creswell has stood out for its menu’s diversity. For instance, Seth Clark’s childhood camping recipe inspires the bestselling breakfast burrito; the quinoa breakfast bowl is a recipe shared with him by a customer; and the egg-free mornin’ scramble was born after he noticed that many of his employees and consumers were vegan and gluten-free. Tillamook cheddar cheese is found in the basic breakfast sandwich, the bagel (less), as well as the grilled cheese. And the coffee derives from beans imported from Latin America and Southeast Asia.
Blue Valley Bistro has been serving a coffee whose consistency has not changed since its beginning due to the roasting technique of its supplier. The coffee beans are imported and treated by the oldest roaster in Eugene, Cafeto, a family-owned and 100 percent organic coffee company founded in 1984.
Coffee is grown in 70 countries, with Brazil being the largest exporter. Cafeto sources its beans from Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Indonesia, Ethiopia and Italy. In light of this: How many countries are represented in the coffee beans used by Blue Valley Bistro and proudly displayed on their checkout counter?
“In that cup of coffee right there, there are five countries that are represented,” Clark says.
Indonesia is one of them, and the rest are four Latin American countries. A total of five territories. Five coffee plantations. Five climates. Five planting and cultivation techniques. Five processing methods. Here is something to think about: What are the probabilities of experiencing a coffee made with beans from five different parts of the globe in a city with approximately 5,540 inhabitants and three other cafés?
The fragrance and flavor, both encapsulated in the grains, can only reach their maximum expression under the art, skill and knowledge of a coffee specialist. Clark, who worked as a Starbucks barista during his college years, is also an avid coffee connoisseur. For him, the flavor profile of a bean results primarily from what is in the ground. During his youth, his travels to Australia and New Zealand expanded his understanding of the different coffee flavors. “I took note,” he says. Outside of the U.S., a young Seth promised to make the coffee of his future café in the same proximity and level as the coffee served in both countries. And so he did.
Blue Valley Bistro is a space where Clark’s commitment materializes. The high quality of the coffee results from the type of beans and the preparation, resulting in a drink where knowledge and skills merge. “There’s a certain order of operation. There are certain parameters in which a shot of espresso is going to be good or whether it is too short or too long,” Clark says regarding the signature coffee served at his restaurant.
Although the Clarks now run only two coffee shops due to the pandemic, in Creswell and in Coburg, the commitment is still alive. The full-time owners are also full-time parents to their daughter Lyla, born in 2016. In the beginning, one cared for their daughter while the other worked in the restaurant until they employed a sitter who used to work at their establishment.
To this day, Blue Valley Bistro closes at 3 pm because their life as parents spirals around their daughter’s school schedule. “This morning, for instance, you know Melissa opened at 6 am, and I would take Lyla to school, and then I come here after that and begin working at 8:30 am, and Melissa is off at 2 pm to go pick her up,” Seth says, who is also the house cook. Despite the difficulties and challenges, including the break-in theft of $5,000 in December 2021 by a robber caught eventually in Corvallis, the couple continues to serve as owners and workers of the establishment.
The commitment has not changed. “I want to make sure that every cup of coffee going out is of a certain quality… that’s why our coffee is above margin, is a better cup of coffee,” Seth says.
Blue Valley Bistro is at 116 Melton Road, Creswell. Hours are 8 am to 3 pm Monday through Saturday. 541-895-8860.