The city of Portland is known as a hotspot of many interests. From the bustling food scene, to the city’s abundant arts, music and festival culture, to our enviable collection of highly touted coffee roasters—not to mention Portland’s dizzying outdoor options for hiking, biking, rafting, and beaching—it’s no wonder Portland has become a destination city for many different types of people, especially as the city has developed over the last decade.
This can be overwhelming for some but poses as an opportunity for others. One individual changed the trajectory of his career by opening a space where he operates within the boundaries of multiple passions, which include working with global artists, creating a clothing line, and starting a coffee brand. For owner Bijan Berahimi, this is just another day in the office at Fisk (stylized FISK).
Native to Southern California, Berahimi attended CalArts, an art school outside of Los Angeles. Once he graduated, he moved to Portland and was shortly thereafter hired by Nike to put his design skills to use with the sportswear brand. After numerous projects with the world’s best athletes, Berahimi would opt to go into business for himself. Rather than focus just on sports, he started a company that focuses on everything that occupies one’s life.
“I’m passionate about life as a whole,” Berahimi tells me. “I’m an advocate of accessibility and understand that as humans we are inherently interested in many facets of life.”
Named after a song by the band Spoon, Fisk is the brainchild of Berahimi that was created during his college days. Fisk is a graphic design studio focused on the enhancement of art and design. The list of their clients includes Grammy-nominated music artists, multi-billion-dollar sportswear companies, and other world-renowned brands. Operating as a full-service design agency, Fisk’s work can be seen through multiple mediums: design direction, merch, billboards, websites, etc. Along with their studio, Fisk has a gallery in Northeast Portland that serves as a retail and event space. The gallery is home to their clothing brand, art and design objects, and magazines from around the world; truly a collection of items that encapsulates where their passion lies. Most importantly, the gallery serves as an extension from Fisk into the community.
“Design is at the core of what we do but community is at the root of it all, since the very beginning,” Berahimi says.
Fisk is tapping into the community for their most recent project, which includes a Portland coffee veteran. Katherine Harris, owner of Upper Left Roasters and True Tea, hired Fisk to create the design language for True Tea in 2021. What started as business partnership would lead Berahimi down an unexpected path of exploration into the coffee industry.
“I’m interested in the history and legacy of things,” Berahimi continues. “Coffee is a good example because it’s a ritual, but what does it look like when there is a creative approach to the ritual?
As a generalist, Berahimi found a casual conversation between him and Harris was the impetus of the launch of his coffee brand, Tired Coffee. Upper Left Roasters provides the coffee roast, Ethiopia Dumerso, while Fisk leads the overall design and branding for the coffee. Most importantly, it was a partnership rooted through community.
“I wanted to create a brand and build the story around it from the ground up,” Berahimi explained.
The name Tired Coffee was inspired by an American tire company from the early 1900s, also named Fisk. In efforts to repurpose the old theme of Fisk, the logo includes a tire, bringing the concepts full circle. The term “tired” is a nod back to the grind of the design process, and the creative juices needed to power you through.
“’Tired Coffee will get you to point A to point B’ is the tagline. It applies literally to navigating, but more loosely to the creative process. There are many parallels that can be drawn between the two.”
The creative rollout didn’t stop with the logo, there was a series of commercials and merchandise that were released to create energy. This execution may seem familiar to those in the fashion industry, but it’s rarely done in the specialty coffee scene. Leading with the design first and telling a good story proved to be a unique approach for this launch. To scale the launch to the community, Fisk held multiple events with local partners to infuse Tired Coffee into the food and beverage scene. By the looks of it, this is just the beginning of Fisk becoming Tired, including plans for more roasts and future concepts still under wraps.
For now, Fisk gallery offers a free cup of Tired Coffee for everyone who visits the space. The team is currently using a Butter Yellow Moccamaster KBGV Select to brew their coffee. As far as the future, the writings on the wall may indicate a deeper investment into their coffee program.
Giovanni Fillari is Brand Marketing Specialist at Nike and the publisher of @_coffeefeed. He is the honorable mention Sprudgie Award recipient for Social Media in 2018 and 2021. Read more Giovanni Fillari for Sprudge.