JJ Marti fills up a beer at Rock Island Coffee, which sells much more than just coffee. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

JJ Marti fills up a beer at Rock Island Coffee, which sells much more than just coffee. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

More than a cup of joe: Rock Island Coffee

Gordon Koetje and Brenda Marti wanted to create more than a coffee shop. And by most measures, they’ve accomplished that goal. The owners of Coupeville’s Sunshine Drip recently opened Rock Island Coffee in Oak Harbor, but this new location on Midway Boulevard also offers craft beer, wine, lunch and dinner food options and live music performances on the weekends.

“We like to do more than just heating something up,” said Koetje.

Like their Central Whidbey shop, all the sandwiches are made with bread from the Oystercatcher restaurant, almost all the baked goods are made in-house and the coffee is organic and free trade. Unlike Sunshine Drip, Rock Island Coffee stays open a little later and the menu changes to include personal pizzas and homemade mac ‘n cheese. The menu is still evolving.

“We’re trying to work to have something for everyone,” said Marti. “It just takes time.”

The two said they wanted the place to have a Pacific Northwest feel, but it didn’t need to be said. The two met in a cycling group, and their love of the outdoors is tangible in the restaurant. Images of mountains and outdoor sports line the walls, and T-shirts that read “Pacific Northwest” in plain font hang near the cash register.

Marti owned gift shops in Coupeville and Oak Harbor before entering the coffee industry, and she wanted to bring a touch of that life into their current businesses.

“It was hard to give that part up,” she said.

Hats, T-shirts and a number of food products are all available in addition to the coffee, food, beer and wine. The products in Oak Harbor will always be different than the selection in Coupeville, she said.

They named the new location differently because they wanted to maintain a distinction. There’s a different feel to the Oak Harbor shop and a slightly different clientele. But there are similarities the owners hope to maintain.

“In Coupeville, Sunshine offered a great community place,” Marti said. “We’re hoping to bring that here too.”

The two, who are “partners in life and partners in two businesses,” are Whidbey Island natives. Both graduated from Oak Harbor High School and Koetje went to Broad View Elementary School. The business is also a family affair, with three of the owners’ four children working alongside them.

“We have deep roots here,” said Koetje.

The community aspect is important to them. They said they want Rock Island to be a place where people can do homework, play a board game, have a meeting or watch the Seahawks.

“For me,” said Koetje, “our goal is to feel better when you leave than when you walked in the door.”

Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times.
                                Jacklyn Curtis makes a drink at Rock Island Coffee on Midway Boulevard in Oak Harbor.

Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times. Jacklyn Curtis makes a drink at Rock Island Coffee on Midway Boulevard in Oak Harbor.

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