Meraki [may-rah-kee], a Greek word, means “to do something with soul, creativity or love; to put something of yourself in your work,” according to the black lettering artfully painted on a blank white wall inside of Eugene’s newest sunlight-flooded coffee shop. Mid-century, modern-style furniture adorns the café in shades of white, grey, black and yellow with light, wooden accents that match the hardwood floor. The simple colors pair well with the daylight that shines through the two 12-paned glass garage doors that could presumably be rolled up when the temperature rises above freezing.
Meraki Coffee & Co. Café opened its doors on Monday, Feb. 18 and stayed open the entire following week for Eugene locals to come in and escape the cold of the “snowmageddon.” Located on 1203 Willamette St., the café sits on the newly renovated strip that also houses the popular Claim 52 Brewing Kitchen and the eclectic restaurant and retailer, Saucefly. The coffee shop serves local roasts from Equiano and Pacori, as well as avocado toast, oatmeal, soup from Soup Nation and an assortment of local bakery goods.
Owner Alexandria Marchant has had the idea for such a coffee shop for over eight years but never found the right opportunity to make it happen. Then, Marchant’s family-friend brought the availability of this spot to her attention.
“A family friend knew that I had always wanted to do this because I had talked about it in the past,” Marchant said. “We literally found the spot before we did the planning.”
From there, it was a bit of a fire drill for Marchant to get everything ready to open the café. Luckily, for eight years, Marchant spent lots of time visiting other coffee shops, detailing what she likes, doesn’t like, and then applying that to her vision. When a space finally became available, it was just the about putting it all together in a way that would fit her dream.
“I wanted something that’s cozy but kind of modern. I don’t want anyone to feel like they’re not welcome,” Marchant said. “I really like detail, and I kind of drive myself crazy because I just obsess over all of every last little thing.”
This attention to detail and desire for everything to be perfect are extremely evident, regardless of the time restraints this vision was accomplished under. The coffee blends were hand-picked by Marchant to provide the best-tasting coffee possible. “We tried a lot of coffee — a lot — before we chose somebody,” Marchant said. Equiano coffee even created a unique roast for Meraki to use in their espressos.
The cold brew coffee is delicious, so much so that it hardly needs add-ins like milk and sugar because it is so smooth. On the warmer spectrum, the mocha is the perfect mix between sweet, creamy and rich, composing one of the better mochas in town.
The food available at Meraki is not something to gloss over. The avocado toast comes in a few varieties with a choice of white or sourdough bread and a choice of chilli flakes or everything seasoning on top. The avocado is mixed with lime juice and herbs placed on top of a thick, toasted slice of bread. As for the pastries, Marchant has yet to settle on a set assortment of items as she searches for the perfect bakery to be their supplier.
The intricate, hand-painted murals on either end of the café are another aspect that make Meraki so aesthetically satisfying. Both swirly, floral-heavy paintings were handmade by Marchant’s husband's cousin, Curtis Duke. Duke painted the murals and designed the artistic Meraki logo by utilizing his experience as a tattoo artist at Black Label, a local tattoo parlor that specializes in high-end tattoos.
All of these details — from the coffee blends to the murals on the walls — create a perfect atmosphere to relax and think. Coffee shops should be the perfect place to contemplate and get work done while enjoying good food and even better coffee — Meraki Coffee & Co. understands this and executes it perfectly.