At Sunnyland’s newest coffee shop, expectations are raised before visitors even step inside. It’s impossible not to notice a bold proclamation printed on the entrance: “Enjoy the best coffee in the world.”
“It looks funny, but for Colombian people, we are so sure that we have the best coffee in the world,” owner Oscar Quintero says. “The main reason is that Colombia has the perfect physical environment to grow good coffee.”
You don’t have to take Oscar’s word for it: The beans at COF&– pronounced “cof-y”, with the “y” signifying the Spanish word for “and”– are designated as specialty. Specialty coffee is the highest quality available, and to be certified as such, beans must score above an 80 on a 100-point quality scale, be hand-picked at a mature stage, and have five or fewer defects per 12 ounces.
COF&’s beans are sourced by trading directly with small-batch coffee farmers in Oscar’s native department of Santander, Colombia. The beans are grown under the natural coverings of trees, and while sun-grown is the industry standard, shade-grown coffee is more environmentally sustainable. In addition, the forested setting provides natural pest control and allows beans to slowly develop until mature.
So what can be done with specialty coffee? Thanks to the knowledge of Oscar and barista Kristina Garcia, customers have a wealth of options. Beyond traditional offerings such as espresso and lattes, they brew drinks using a variety of techniques and equipment, including aeropresses and Japanese siphons.
COF& also offers specialty drinks such as the Espresso Bonbon (condensed milk, a double shot of espresso, and whipped cream) and Cappuccino Gold (a cappuccino topped with honey and rimmed with crushed almonds). I tried the Cappuccino Gold, and it far surpassed my (admittedly very high) expectations.
Of course, delicious coffee is just the beginning of the COF& experience. The cozy wooden decor– built by Oscar and his wife, Heimy– creates the perfect atmosphere for lingering over a drink, preferably with a good book or the company of a friend. Garcia and Oscar know how to make patrons feel at home, and Oscar is enthusiastic about sharing his knowledge of Colombian coffee and culture. Above all, he makes an effort to approach customers as a human being, not just a businessperson.
In addition to made-to-order drinks, bagged coffee and branded merchandise are available for purchase. The shop also sells Wayuu bags and jewelry from PHIA handmade, Heimy’s company. Oscar says that selling coffee alongside her jewelry at markets was the first step to opening his own business.
For an added treat, customers can purchase empanadas, pastries, and sweets from local companies including Go Natural Foods and Resonate Chocolate.
“We are a Colombian coffee shop, so we sell Colombian foods,” Oscar says. “We sell empanadas and some sweet products typical from Colombia, so the idea with the food is to have this same experience with the coffee– to be different.”
Unsurprisingly, COF& has become a hub for the local Colombian community– and it’s also been a hit with customers who previously knew little about Colombia. Garcia says there is a desire to see more cultures represented in Bellingham’s local businesses, and as a result, the community has embraced Oscar’s endeavor with open arms.
“Bellingham is really diverse,” Garcia says. “I love just being able to see that diversity, and people being able to experience different cultures– but yet still staying in Bellingham.”
To learn more about COF&, patrons can follow at them on social media at @cofy.wa. 784 Kentucky St., Bellingham, 360.824.1018, colcofy.com