When I lived in Grants Pass the Boersma family owned a dairy on Upper River Road. By the time I moved to the coast the cows had been phased out and pasture land transformed into Dutcher Creek Golf Course.
Jessica Randolph near the end of her shift May 31, her last day as a barista in Crescent City. The Daily Triplicate/Michele Thomas
The young Boersma brothers, Dane and Travis, went on vacation – I think it was to Costa Rica – and returned to Grants Pass enthused about roasting coffee beans in their hometown. In 1992 they started serving their coffee from a cart downtown a few blocks from my office. They set up early and entertained passersby with their grins and high-energy personalities.
The brothers’ charisma was contagious and their business boomed. Before long they opened a sit-down coffee house in an oddly shaped building with exposed brick walls on 6th and D. Next their blue and white drive-throughs popped up on corners all over town.
When I moved to Brookings it was comforting to get my morning mocha at a familiar place. It was there that I first met Jessica.
Jessica Randolph started as a Dutch Bros. barista in 2004. Two years later, around the time I moved here, she became manager of the new Crescent City stand when it opened. Jessica worked the morning shift and told me she served as many as 200 customers a day.
Jessica, 27, enjoyed the work but has been contemplating a change for a few years. She’s considered moving and going back to school. Three years ago she vacationed in Mexico for almost a month. Then in 2009, Jessica traveled to Belize by herself for two weeks. It was after Belize that she realized, “This is what I want to do. Even my mother encouraged me to travel and see the world.”
A couple of weeks ago I stopped by the stand for a decaf Americano with one Splenda and a little half and half, which Jessica had ready as I pulled up to the window. “If I don’t see you again, I just want to say good-bye,” she said.
Of course I had to ask. Jessica is flying to Lima, Peru then going north by bus to Juarez for a couple of weeks. She’ll fly into the Sacred Valley of the Incas and spend a month around Cusco where Machu Picchu is. After that she’ll head to northern Chile, spending time in Santiago then taking the train to the Mendoza wine country, Argentina. She’ll check out Valparaiso and other beach towns before she flies back to the states.
No, she’s not returning to Crescent City. She’s going to live for a while in a coastal town 40 minutes north of Boston. She thought she’d give that a try since she’s never been. It will be October: fall in New England.
Jessica summed up her decision to travel alone by saying, “I’ve been trying to figure out what to do and realized this is the only thing I have a passion about. Why didn’t I figure it out at 19 or 20?”
I drove to work thrilled for Jessica, and envious. I wished her a great adventure, and wished I were going. I reflected on my own travels in Mexico when I was in my 20s and knew this trip would change her life. I will miss her morning smile, but I’m glad she’s spreading her wings.