One of our favorite neighborhood spots is a cafe & bakery called Prince Coffee, the brainchild of Katie Prinsen. We sat down over coffee and her famous stroopwafels to learn more about her journey to becoming one of Portland’s many female coffee entrepreneurs. When you’re in Portland, be sure to make a stop for these stroopwafels. Sorry Delta, yours are just not the same thing…
How did you first discover coffee?
I have been in coffee on and off since I was 16! Even when I was a little kid I would beg my mom for coffee samples in the grocery store so I guess I’ve always had some sort of a draw to it. I worked for a company called Dutch Bros all through college and it wasn’t until after I graduated school that I decided to make coffee my career. I got into specialty coffee in 2011 and spent the next five years trying to learn as much as possible about the world of coffee. I managed my favorite coffee shop in the country, traveled to a few different coffee origins, and judged barista competitions. Out of all my experience I found that my biggest passion was in creating a space for customers to enjoy. I love the aspect of serving a really high quality product in an approachable way.
Stroopwafels… what started that?
My family is Dutch and I grew up going to Holland to visit my grandparents every summer. Going to the farmer’s markets and getting fresh stroopwafels was always one of my biggest highlights. Back then there was nowhere in the States you could get stroopwafels, so at the end of the summer I would squeeze as many packages of them in my suitcase as possible to bring back to friends. Even now with all the prepackaged stroopwafels at grocery stores, it’s still really hard to find a fresh one anywhere, so I took it upon myself to bring the stroopwafels to the people! That and I also believe that there’s not much better than a cup of coffee and a stroopwafel.
What was it like to open up a bakery and coffee shop in a developing neighborhood?
Finding my first location was really difficult. I looked for a spot from 2014-2016 but it was at a time in Portland where there was hardly any available retail space (which is hard to believe now). I was so passionate about opening in the neighborhood I lived in so I finally asked Revive Designs if I could sublet the front of their upholstery shop from them. It’s down a random side street in a low foot traffic area so I wasn’t expecting much. From day one, though, we have received so much support from the neighborhood! It’s pretty incredible. Kenton has changed a lot in the last three years and we’ve continued to get busier but I will always be grateful for the people who have been supportive from the start.
We’ve heard rumors about a new Prince location. Can you tell us more about that?
Well, we’ve signed an LOI so far so until the lease is signed its not set in stone, but we are hopefully opening in Schoolhouse Electric this June! I am incredibly excited as I love working with local companies and its an honor to be in their showroom. We will be doing a similar food program as our Beaumont location, and of course making fresh stroopwafels as well.
Do you change the type of coffee you like depending on the time of day, season, location?
I personally drink brewed coffee every morning, no matter the weather. If I still need a little extra I’ll have an espresso. For about six years I drank a cappuccino every day, but slowly my palette stopped craving milk. Funny how that happens. If its hot out though I do really enjoy an iced oat milk latte.
How is being an entrepreneur better than you expected, and how is it worse?
I could talk about this for a long time! There are so many amazing things about being an entrepreneur that I had no idea. One of the biggest ones for me is that my business is only as good as I push it to be. Its a constant motivator to keep moving forward to make things better, not just for myself but also for my employees and customers. After three years of owning Prince its fun to look back and see how far we’ve come. Its also really cool to see my vision come to life and then have awesome employees that not only believe in that vision, but help keep the company going and growing.
The downside to entrepreneurship that I should have seen coming but had no clue, is the lack of mental breaks! Even when I am nowhere near Prince my mind is constantly thinking about it. It takes me at least two days being out of town to finally give my mind a break from work.
What is a perfect day for Katie Prinsen?
When I am in town…Perfect weather, between 75-85 degrees and sunny. Go to one of my shops with my dog and drink coffee outside in the sun, then go for a hike in the Gorge. Come home and BBQ with friends and end the day with a nice glass of wine. Not much better than that!
A traveling perfect day for me would be exploring a new city for the first time. The more different than our culture the better. Traveling is one of my biggest passions. My favorite places to travel are Africa and Australia/New Zealand. Australia/New Zealand for their amazing coffee culture/food scene. Africa because it is so different than anywhere else in the world. I have been twice now and want to go back as soon as possible. The last time I was there I spent time in Johannesburg but I would love to check out Cape Town as well as Kenya or Morocco.
What’s been your experience so far with the Ratio Eight?
We brewed on it for a week at the shop and I have been playing around with it at home and love it so much. I love that you just have to push one button and it heats up so quickly. I also love that you can do a half batch or full batch!