Local resident Pippa Kiraly begins a monthly series of Madison Valley merchant profiles.
Coffeehouses began in Turkey in the mid-17th century, reached Europe not so much later, and by 1739 there were 551 coffeehouses in London. They’ve always been places that attracted people to talk business, play games, socialize with likeminded people—and drink coffee. Fast forward to mid-20th century when they began to become popular in the U.S. Not just Starbucks but other independent coffeehouses sprang up, offering snacks as well as coffee and tea, as well as game boards, newspapers, armchairs and tables where meetings could be held.
It’s our good fortune that this type of coffeehouse has arrived in Madison Valley. Zander Natallani opened Harbour Pointe Coffeehouse at 2818 E Madison a year ago, with the intention of making it a community go-to place to hang out with a cup of good coffee, hold a meeting, attend a class, or just enjoy a newspaper.
He’s not just offering coffee and tea, but baked goods he makes himself on the premises. When I interviewed him early one morning he was rolling pastry and lining mini pie pans preparatory to making individual savory tarts which he is offering as one item on of his new brunch menu.
As far as possible he uses fresh organic ingredients, and always has something vegan, even a vegan pastry, for those customers. “I don’t use any processed ingredients, everything is made from scratch. A lot of stuff is farm fresh, from a friend.”
To Natallani, it’s all about community. “It’s a big thing in my life,” he says. “A coffeehouse is where people meet, for food, entertainment, games, books, movies, parents’ date night, video games. That’s what we serve.” Almost all of these he is now offering—a bookshelf with books to borrow, PTA meetings, French classes on Tuesdays, art classes for kids, and soon adults: “Painting With Coffee.”
He chose Madison Valley because it just felt right. “My family is all spread out and not close, and I need a community.” His dad was a chef, and Natallani watched, listened and learned from him and from working in restaurants since age fifteen (he’s now 35). “I was invited to learn from a school for chefs in Tuscany, but I was too young and stupid to realize what it meant,” and he didn’t go.
His clientele is building with people of all ages. “We’re busier than we’ve ever been,” he says as he tips flour onto a wooden board, but has quite a way to go yet to reach his goal of 6–8000 customers a month. One of his latest ventures is working with the Bush School to teach about entrepreneurship. Some of the staff come to the coffeehouse, and the plan is for the Bush students to have their own coffee shop, business plan and all, Natallani helping as a mentor.
In the spring he hopes to have his beer and wine license so he’ll have a wine bar after 5.30 p.m. For now, Natallani works long hours daily, 7 A.M.–7 P.M., a bit shorter on Sundays, and down the road, he’d like to open another coffeehouse, in the U district.
Pippa Kiraly is a Madison Valley resident and merchant, teaching the Buteyko method of retraining breathing. You can find her at lifelongeasybreathing.com. She is also a longtime classical music critic writing under her given name of Philippa Kiraly.
Photos by D.I. Forbes