Julie Jesse bought Caffe Latte when she was 26. Twenty-six years later, she is selling the iconic downtown Seaside coffee and gift shop to her employee, Krista Howsden.
“It’s time to have somebody with a little bit more energy and enthusiasm for it,” Jesse said. “When I first started, I was 26 years old. I had lots of energy, lots of fun ideas. And I’m, I guess a little bit burnt out. I’m ready to take what I’ve worked and built up and pass it on to somebody younger, with new ideas and new energy.”
Jesse was born and raised in Seaside, graduating from Seaside High School in 1987. Her father owned the Leggs Broadway Pharmacy. “I graduated from high school, got married, went to Seattle, graduated from the University of Washington, worked in the coffee industry in Seattle for a number of years,” she said. “Then in 1995 we moved back to Seaside.”
The coffee shop had been open for six years and on its second owner when Jesse bought it.
Jesse did well immediately with support from the community. “I was moving back into town as a local kid growing up here. I had a lot of support from people that knew me coming in.”
She switched coffees and added merchandise. “I changed the idea that there were no gift items. There were no coffee mugs, no aprons, no dish towels, there was nothing. They only made coffee.”
Jesse said the key to her success is consistency in hours, with Caffe Latte open seven days a week except for Thanksgiving and Christmas. “We’ve always opened at 8 a.m.,” she said. “Every day, seven days a week, regardless of the time of year, locals always know they can come in and we’re here.”
Visitors often return every year, what she calls her “regular out-of-towners.”
Howsden has been working with Jesse on and off since 2005, when she was 19. A 2004 graduate of Seaside High School, Caffe Latte’s new owner has lived in town since age 5.
She worked at a few other places, but kept returning to Caffe Latte. Even though she left Seaside for a while, when she returned, her job was waiting. “This is my fourth time back, I believe,” Howsden said.
The mall “just feels kind of like home,” Howsden said. “I was calling it ‘my comfort zone’ for a long time. It’s a good spot.”
Howsden, who has three children, doesn’t plan many changes, and will continue to sell beverages, coffee mugs and kitchen items.
“We have chopsticks for children,” she said. “We have scoops for your dog. ... We have a little section of kitcheny things for your dog. But as far as the big picture, I’m going to keep it fairly the same.”
Howsden will continue to be assisted by manager Alex Blackston, who has been with Caffe Latte for six years.
“I’ve been super blessed having Krista and Alex,” Jesse said, adding she will continue to mentor them through the process.
Jesse plans to spend more time at her Avenue S self-storage business and in her home garden.
She is chair of the advisory council at Providence Seaside Hospital and serves on the Oregon Community Ministry Board for Providence for the Oregon region.
“I love Seaside,” Jesse said. “I was born and raised here. So my heart’s always been here. And I thank everybody for the support. I think it’s a great community and I’ve been happy to be involved in it.”
She said she hopes to continue to stay involved. “And I hope that everyone will support Krista, in the manner that they’ve supported me,” she said.
“I’m happy and excited and hopeful,” Howsden said. “And I hope things continue going as they’ve been going over the past 26 years.”