Portland is one of the U.S.’s foremost coffee cities, but Bison Coffeehouse is the city’s only Native-owned café. Its owner, Loretta Guzman, is a citizen of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. In 2014, Guzman opened the coffeehouse with the intention to serve and promote coffee from Native American roasters. In recent years, she’s had more and more companies to choose from, with roasters now opening on reservations from Oregon to Oklahoma.
As for the name, there are indeed no longer any bison in the area, the land of the Cowlitz, Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and Clackamas peoples. But the inspiration for both the coffeehouse and the name came to Guzman when, ill with cancer, she had a dream about a bison roaming the streets of Portland. It only took a few years to make her dream a reality, and Bison Coffeehouse opened its doors in 2014.
Native Coffee Roasters of New York’s Poospatuck Indian Reservation provides Bison’s house blend, while Nevada’s Star Village Coffee, based on the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony makes the medium roast. The Arizona-based Spirit Mountain Coffee Roasting Co. collaborated with Guzman to create the dark-roast MMIP blend, to bring awareness to the ongoing crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples.