WASHINGTON — What's been brewing at The Blend the past 10 years?
The coffee house business has grown from its original location to three locations. The number of employees has increased from two to 25.
Not bad numbers for a first-time business owner who admits she took a leap of faith when she changed courses in her professional life after working for 28 years as a medical technologist.
"Looking back, I equate getting into the coffee house business to having and raising children," said Yvonne Andresen, mother of two. "Both are among the most difficult things I've ever done, but also among the most satisfying."
Andresen moved to Washington in 2000 after living in Tucson, Ariz., for eight years.
She said she came to realize Washington needed a place for the community to gather and celebrate milestones. Tucson has a lot of them, Andresen said.
So she opened The Blend Café at 1130 Peoria St. in 2007 with a business partner. She bought out the partner a year later.
Think of The Blend Café as "Cheers" minus alcohol, an ex-ballplayer behind the bar, a mailman who always wears his uniform in the place and a guy named Norm who has his own bar stool.
"Where coffee and community come together" is The Blend Cafe's often-publicized theme.
Two blocks west of The Blend Café at 1287 Peoria St. is The Blend Express kiosk drive-through.
The Blend Express opened in 2009 in a former Mountain Mud coffee kiosk. The old kiosk was demolished and a new one was built in 2015.
The newest Blend location, which opened last year, is in the lobby at Five Points Washington at 360 N. Wilmor Road.
The Blend Five Points has the feel of an internet café and features a menu that promotes a healthy, active lifestyle because Five Points has a fitness club, aquatic center and gymnasium.
Andresen said she's learning more all the time about what The Blend Five Points customers want to eat and drink and she's adjusted the menu accordingly. A recent addition to the menu is salad in a cup, which also is available at The Blend Café and The Blend Express.
The Blend Café also contains a retail store where items like ceramic mugs are sold. The Blend Five Points has items for sale like water bottles, headbands and ear buds.
Andresen said she's never considered herself a woman business owner, just simply a business owner.
But she's thinks about being a woman business owner occasionally when The Blend customers, even women, assume a male employee is the owner.
"It doesn't bother me when that happens," Andresen said.
Andresen credits her son Drew, 27, and The Blend Café manager Noah Libotte, 24, with making The Blend more attractive to millennials through new products and the company's website.
Libotte said he didn't know much about coffee when he first began working at The Blend Café about 3 1/2 years ago, but he quickly discovered he could combine his passion for art with coffee.
"They go together well," he said.
How so? Through latte art, where a barista like Libotte uses steamed milk poured into a shot of espresso to create a pattern or design on the surface of the latte.
"The presentation is so important," Libotte said.
Andresen hasn't sat on the sidelines while she's been growing her business. She's been involved with the Washington Chamber of Commerce for several years and this year is serving as board president.
Steve Stein can be reached at 686-3114 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.