After a three-hour drive of winding roads, mountain views, and forest dense highway, the tasty drip coffee from your favorite Portland coffee shop is long gone. Your legs feel like they could use a stretch, eyes heavy from focusing on the road. A bright red flag boasting “coffee beer and gear” catches your attention as you make the turn toward Smith Rock State Park, the birthplace of American sport climbing and one of the country’s climbing meccas. Coming from Portland, you wouldn’t expect to find quality coffee between the city and the iconic rock formation in high desert Terrebonne, Oregon. But if you stop for a beverage at the nondescript beige building on the corner of Highway 97, you might just be in for a treat.
As you pull open the door to Redpoint Climber’s Supply, you’re greeted with brightly colored ropes, chalk bags, carabiners, and work from local artists contrasting light wood floors and an L-shaped wooden bar. Cozy couches invite you to sit and hang out with something warm to drink, and thriving plants hang from the ceiling. You notice a beer board with 15 local brews on tap, and a coffee menu with a one-sized cappuccino. A good sign. A smiling face behind the counter welcomes you; even if you’re not a rock climber, you’ve found your new coffee stop for your Smith Rock adventures.
Redpoint Climber’s Supply has been around for over 30 years, almost as long as Smith Rock has been a state park. Once it was a small red shack, a gathering place for rock climbers that had made the journey across the mountain pass to explore the volcanic rock in Central Oregon. Since its inception in the 1980s, Redpoint has changed ownership only three times, and the most recent owner, Kyle Bonfert, has reimagined a previously well-loved establishment into a thriving community hub.
At the beginning of 2020, the rock climber and former chef was offered the chance to purchase the local climbing store where he worked. A big ideas person, Bonfert wanted to elevate the gear shop into a welcoming space for people to come hang out, talk gear, enjoy a variety of local beers, and sip on delicious coffee. So, before the area got filled with tourists, he put some fresh paint on the walls, installed new floors, commissioned a reclaimed wood tap board, and made a cozy space for people to sit and enjoy a beverage. Bonfert and his dad found a three group Rancilio from a cafe that was closing and refurbished it themselves before the shop reopened for the season in March. Unfortunately, soon after the remodel and re-opening, COVID hit and Bonfert was forced to switch to takeaway only, slinging shots from a little window out the back of the shop.
Despite all the difficulties COVID brought for a small business in a tourist destination, the power of community allowed Redpoint to pull through. Now, as Smith Rock becomes more of a destination for Oregonians and beyond, Redpoint is becoming the best place to start and end a day out at Smith.
“My face and fresh local beans is our jam,” laughs Bonfert when I ask him what makes Redpoint so special. “[We’re also] the only sit-down coffee shop in Terrebonne. [Our menu] is simple but the focus is on freshness and quality, a kind atmosphere, wifi, couches, and just a good place to hang.”
Bonfert has chosen to continue the previous owners’ tradition of using super small-batch Bend roaster Bonsai Beans, run by musical couple Megan and Eli Madden. They roast their beans to an array of old-school tunes, which are the inspiration for the naming of their roasts. Redpoint’s espresso blend, Party at Your Momma’s House, features beans from Guatemala, Brazil, and Ethiopia that produce a well-rounded, full-bodied chocolate/nut forward shot, reminiscent of what you would find in a milky coffee in Australia. On FETCO is Soulshine, a washed and sun-dried Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Aster that can hold its own with milk or cream but also brings you back to the coffee pot days with its rich, balanced flavor when you have it black. It’s just what you would want before an outdoor adventure—warm, comforting, and caffeinated. Refreshing nitro cold brew on tap is a popular staple in summer. Local Metolious Teas line the counter for an afternoon treat, and the tea maker’s chai also sits on the menu as a favorite as-is or made dirty. For off-menu beta, ask for a dirty turmeric latte—golden turmeric powder with espresso, cinnamon, honey, and warm milk of your choice. A wide variety of alternative milks (including the ever-elusive hemp milk) round out Redpoint’s offering, a nice surprise in a small country town.
While there might not be many options (yet) in terms of roasters or espresso offerings, the climbing shop makes sure what it does offer is done well with a refreshingly old-school attitude toward coffee—keep it simple and tasty. The emphasis on local is evident everywhere you look, and you catch an idea of the relationship Bonfert has with his vendors in the way he greets every delivery person and sales rep. It isn’t the white-walled, subway-tiled aesthetic of many popular city cafes, but carries its own charm in the colorful gear that lines the walls, the positive vibes offered with your perfectly foamed latte, and the views of Smith out the back.
What’s in store for the future of Redpoint? Talk of a food truck, an expanding drink menu, and more community events are looking likely. “I just want to create the community that Redpoint and Smith have into something super positive and a model for others in terms of inclusivity, coffee, beer, climbing, and gear.”
Ashley Cotter is a freelance journalist based in Portland. This is Ashley Cotter’s first feature for Sprudge.