The owners of Foxy Coffee are the best baristas turned carpenters

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Josiah Francis’ version of making lemons from lemonade was starting a handcrafted furniture business in his failing cafe.

The longtime owner of Foxy Coffee, which has been around in one form or another — roaster, pop-up, cart — since 2014, seized the opportunity to go brick-and-mortar into a new building right in the middle of the pandemic, opening on North Interstate Avenue in January 2021. He and his partner in life and business, Liz Tracy, ran it as a coffee shop by day and cocktail bar by night. Nine months later, they opened a second location downtown.

But, much like COVID itself, coffee sales rhythms have remained unpredictable and stressful. Francis was always working shifts at Haymaker to make ends meet, and then one day downtown someone pointed a gun at him. The North Portland store’s cheap pandemic rent also had an expiration date. Foxy dropped its cocktail program at the end of 2021 and closed permanently in March 2022; eventually the city center also closed.

But in the meantime there was Darling woodwork, a showcase for Francis’ handcrafted side tables, consoles, bedside tables and other furniture. Part labor of love, side hustle, and self-care for post-traumatic stress disorder, it literally all started in Foxy, with Francis sanding wood and assembling picnic tables right across from the MAX Yellow Line . When Francis first posted a few items to Facebook Marketplace and Instagram, friends and regulars started snapping up the pieces (full disclosure: this writer bought a record shelf). “It was the first time I was like, ‘Oh shit, this might be a legit business,'” he says.

Now Francis does custom work and builds bigger things, and after a few months working in a friend’s garage, he and Tracy, who also makes custom cutting boards and paints, moved to Beaverton, where they now have a workshop. Although coffee roasting and furniture making might be two very different trades, his customers assumed he would bring the same level of integrity and care to both. “They’re like, ‘I already know the quality of your product is good. I’ll be sure your other products will be of the same level of quality. It’s been great.

And along the way, there was a twist: With a slightly more manageable (and also unbreakable) five-year lease downtown, Foxy was reborn as Farling Coffee, with a limited menu and hours. , as well as a space to showcase Darling Woodworks. “There are days when I sell $6 worth of coffee all day,” says Francis. “But I haven’t given up on Portland yet. I think Portland will eventually come back.

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