In the past two years, Esperanza Trading Company has become a fixture in the Woodstock neighborhood. The garage-turned-coffee shop is home to Reforma Coffee Roasters and has built a loyal following with beans sourced almost exclusively from Mexico and for its colorful pan dulce. Owned by Angel Medina as part of his República & Co. hospitality group, Esperanza was recently featured in WW’s Coffee Issue.
So when Esperanza abruptly announced its closure this week, the news came as a shock to its loyal regulars. (KPTV first reported on the fallout.)
Public dismay was intensified by the reason the shop cited on Instagram for its closure: the cost of rent. “Unfortunately, the times in Portland do not call for a $6,500+ a month lease for a coffee shop,” the post read, “and despite how much we tried to explain this, we were not close to having the Ownership group understand the current market.”
As often happens when a beloved small business announces its closure, the comment section blew up and people piled on with messages of support alongside speculation about the landlord’s motives.
The actual details of the dispute remain muddy—neither side would discuss their negotiations in full. The two parties disagree on whether the landlord, Beckwith-Peterson LLC, in effect hiked the rent. They agree, however, that Esperanza Trading Company was never officially on the lease.
Instead, Esperanza was subleasing from a third party, Loma Coffee Company No 1 LLC—the coffee shop that was the previous tenant. “Esperanza Trading Company is not our tenant—and never has been,” says Deborah Peterson, who represents Beckwith-Peterson LLC.
Medina says Beckwith-Peterson LLC was well aware Esperanza had subleased the space. “Otherwise,” he says, “why did she send me every detail and collect over $140,000 in rent from us?”
Peterson says the lease expired and nobody asked for a new one.
“I gave written notice to both the tenant and Esperanza in November 2023—reminding them that the lease was about to expire,” Peterson says. “Loma has never requested to extend the lease term, and Esperanza has never asked to enter into a new lease with me.”
Medina, who owns Esperanza, says the space isn’t worth the expense—especially after he has to pay for common-area maintenance, which effectively raises the rent by $800 a month. “We were under the impression that when we moved in we were going to rough it out for two years and after that we were going to have a conversation about the market,” he tells WW.
He says a small business operating in Portland these days is facing a labor crunch and blighted street conditions. But he expects somebody with deeper pockets will pony up for the lease that Esperanza can’t afford, piggybacking off Esperanza’s success in the neighborhood.
The landlord “might get what they’re asking for, but it’s not because the space is something great,” Medina says. “It has to do with what we were able to build here and what didn’t exist, and somebody coming in and saying, ‘Oh, we can take over that and make it better.’”
“I don’t want to call this gentrification,” he adds, “because we gentrified a white neighborhood, but it is very much the same formula.”
Currently, the Esperanza space is listed for lease by Commercial Realty Investors Northwest.
As far as the coffee goes, Reforma can be found at La Perlita and Electrica, but Medina says it will have to find a new roasting space.
“Everything was just so last minute and so short notice, and we wish we had been in a different position.”