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Monday, May 25, 2020

Caffeine high

By Rachel Sandal


What do people in the Northwest love more than anything? Coffee. Specifically, new coffee. A new shop has recently opened up and hopes to give Bellingham residents their fix.

It worked closely with its interior designer to create an atmosphere that was central to the Bellingham Community, the establishment’s owner Yin-Ho Lai said.

“We really took pride in us not cutting corners, in terms of creating an atmosphere for people where it’s super welcoming and really born in the Pacific Northwest,” Lai said. “One of the main things we really want to emphasize is that I went to school at Western and I’ve lived in the area for like 10 years now. I really wanted to create a local coffee shop that is birthed right in Bellingham.”

Many customers said they enjoyed the atmosphere Trove offered, including Western senior Emilee Sauza.

“It’s really hip and cute,” Sanchez said. “It’s a really cool atmosphere and everyone is really chill.”

Trove Coffee opened in October next door to Trove Cannabis. // Photo by Tyler Morris

Trove offers sustainably sourced and locally roasted coffee, along with a variety of pastries and other snacks from local bakeries such as Avenue Bread and Wake ‘N Bakery, according to their website.

The coffee lounge has a lot of different aspects that complement the Pacific Northwest vibe. They use biodegradable lids and cups and also use other compostable products whenever possible, Lai said.

“It costs us more money and we’re not passing that cost onto the customer,” Lai said. “That was something we felt really strongly about. There is so much waste out there when it comes to getting a cup of coffee. We don’t want to add more to the landfill.”

Trove works closely with Maniac Coffee Roasting in Bellingham. They met with five different other roasters in the area before deciding on Maniac, Lai said.

“We really wanted to work with a local roaster that really knew what they were doing and was all about helping the community, not just trying to make a quick buck,” Lai said.

As Lai and the Trove Coffee team were working on their mission statement, they realized they wanted it to be more than just a coffee shop. They wanted it to be a lounge experience where people can come, day or night, to hang out, Lai said.

“I usually only have a cup of coffee a day,” Lai said. “Anytime past 3 p.m., I’m like ‘I want to sleep. I probably shouldn’t drink coffee, but I want to keep hanging out at the spot.’ We felt the atmosphere here was good enough to introduce something like that without it seeming like an afterthought.”

Trove offers beer from Aslan Brewery, cider and mead from Honeymoon and wine from Vineyards in Washington.

If Trove sounds familiar, it’s because Lai also owns Trove Cannabis,, which is located next door to the coffee lounge.

Trove Coffee manager Megan Wilford said both shops will drive business to each other.

“It’s kind of helpful because a lot of people come in here by accident trying to find the cannabis shop and then realizing, ‘Oh there’s a coffee shop here,’ and then coming back after they go next door,” Wilford said.

The cannabis shop opened up two years ago and Lai said his construction team built it from the ground up.

He knew he wanted to expand his business eventually; he didn’t just want a pot shop. Once business at Trove Cannabis settled down enough after its opening, Lai knew he wanted to create something complementary to his business and had been interested in owning a coffee shop in the past.

Lai said if the opportunity of a coffee shop that has cannabis-infused items on the menu presented itself and the idea was well received by Trove’s customers, he would be interested in doing something similar in the future.

Trove aspires to grow as a community neighborhood hub and someday Lai will continue to expand the Trove brand, he said.


  1. Talk about burying the name of the coffee shop in the fourth paragraph.

    Also, what obstacles is the Trove facing in serving cannabis infused coffee then? I thought this was the point of the article?


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