Pop Tarts with Pacori

Families all across Eugene are spending their Saturday mornings watching cartoons at Caffé Pacori

As a kid there was nothing more sacred than Saturday morning. Saturday mornings meant sleeping in, stealing the comic section from dad’s morning newspaper and watching Tom and Jerry duke it out for the millionth time. 

Eric Pierce, owner of Caffé Pacori, is well aware of this holy time of the week, so much so that he has dedicated his adult Saturday mornings to crafting the perfect Saturday morning for the youth of today through Pacori’s weekly Saturday Morning Cartoons event. 

Every Saturday morning, from 10 am to 2 pm, Pierce stocks his coffee shop with pop tarts and sugary cereals, puts ’80s cartoons on a giant projector screen and watches as people pour in to enjoy a Saturday morning from their childhood. 

“I meant to do it once because I thought it was funny, or maybe annually,” Pierce says. “I’m normally off Saturdays and Jason [Dean] runs the shop, but one day he called me and he was like, ‘Hey can you come and help? There’s a line of people out the door!’”

Pierce said that the first Saturday morning cartoon on Oct. 21, 2023 was such a hit, they ran out of everything halfway through the day.

“It’s these repeat people who come out with their wonderful families who they bring, too,” Pierce says. “I just love being a part of their weekend. Like, their kids are going to remember this for the rest of their lives, you know?”

He says the idea for Saturday Morning Cartoons came to him after visiting Japan last September. “When I went to Japan, I was crazy inspired because it doesn’t matter where you are, it could be the most serious place ever, and they will still have toys on the counter. Cartoons are everywhere,” he says.

If any coffee shop is going to transform itself into a Saturday morning palace for kids and parents alike to bask in nostalgia and sugar, it’s Pacori. Walking into the unassuming warehouse in west Eugene for the first time is a somewhat magical experience. Inside, the walls are covered top to bottom with posters, pictures and sculptures.

You can’t miss the Fraggle Rock character who rides a bicycle that comes out of the wall surrounded by dreamy clouds. In glass cases are vintage, toys and trinkets for people to play with and sometimes purchase. In a side room, pinball machines and Pacman games fill the space. And don’t even get me started on the “best bathroom in Eugene,” according to Eugene Weekly “Best Of” voters. According to EW’s “Best Of” article, the bathroom is inspired by Mattel’s goblin-themed hand puppet toys, “boglins.” The bathroom, created by artist Alessandra Sanniola and barista/carpenter Dean, is adorned with moss and lantern lighting. He says the building looks this way because of his motto: “If I don’t have a reason to say no, I say yes.”

Pierce owes a great deal of the decorating to former Pacori delivery driver Christina Coleman and Dean. “Jason will literally have an idea, work on it all night and crash on the couches down here,” he says. 

On a rack in the front of the store is Pacori merchandise: hats, T-shirts, stickers — all designed by roaster Brit Howard. 

The irony of it all is that Pacori didn’t look like this three years ago. In fact, Pacori wasn’t even selling storefront coffee — it was a coffee roaster and distributor originally owned by Max Orsini. And Pierce was just a guy looking to work a job with his best friend, Mike Allen. 

“I just wanted to hang out with Mike,” Pierce says. “That is how this whole thing happened.”

Allen got Pierce a job sweeping up grounds and helping him roast in 2004. “I really had to prove myself back then because I think the former owner could tell we were there just to hang out together,” Pierce jokes. 

Allen left Pacori in 2005 but still comes around to help out all the time, according to Pierce. After nine years of roasting, Pierce bought the business from Holly Monnette, who bought it from Orsini and kept it as a roastery until the pandemic.

“This all happened because of the pandemic,” Pierce says, pointing to the artwork surrounding him. He goes on to explain that after the pandemic halted distribution, Pacori tried delivering coffee directly to people’s homes. The deliveries were such a success that people started showing up at their warehouse asking for coffee.

“I didn’t know how people even found us,” Pierce jokes. 

As more people began to find the warehouse, Pierce thought it might be nice to clean things up a bit and maybe try offering a small storefront. In June 2020 he ripped out the old carpet in the office room at the warehouse and started selling cold brew there. 

“And that kept growing to the point where people were waiting outside,” he says. “I kept thinking, ‘Why would people come all the way out here for this?’ so we quickly had to extend to the rest of the warehouse.”

In March 2023 Pacori had officially opened up a majority of the warehouse space to use as a storefront offering coffee, toys and Pierce’s mom’s baked goods.

“All I ever wanted was to own a coffee shop where my friends and I could hang out,” Pierce says. “I just wanted a place to hang out.”

Pacori is celebrating 20 years this June. While Pierce says he doesn’t have big plans yet, he’s sure he’ll think of something. “I’m just not sure if I could top Saturday Morning Cartoons,” he says. 

Caffé Pacori is open 10 am to 2 pm Monday through Saturday at 255 Wallis St., Suite 3. Saturday Morning Cartoons play 10 am to 2 pm.