Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tiny's Coffee

Just a little further south on MLK from Goldrush Coffee Bar is a Tiny's Coffee location. Tiny's has two locations, the other being on SE 12th near the Hawthorne Burgerville. I like the MLK location best mainly because on cold and stormy nights, the SE 12th location seems kinda drafty.

They serve Stumptown coffee and Voodoo doughnuts, just in case you've only lived in Portland for five minutes and wanted to do as the tourists do. It may just be that I am burnt out and bitter about the ubiquity of Stumptown coffee, but it seems like the places that have the coolest "living room" spaces, pastries, branding, cute baristas (you know, things that really enhance a coffee experience) are all serving the same drink.

And like I've mentioned before on this blog, I think the Albina Press is the only place that makes Stumptown something to enjoy and respect.

Taking Tiny's drip coffee as an example, I've found on a few different occasions that both the French Press and the Hair Bender they sometimes serve is almost undrinkable. There is way to much acid and really falls flat. Could be just the way they happened to brew the pot that morning but I can always count on both K&F coffee on Clinton St. and Goldrush to have the most consistantly wonderful drip brew.

But, maybe I'm being too hard on a business that plays it safe and consistently keeps it's doors open to the lonely Portlander looking for a place to plug in the laptop and stay connected to the community. Tiny's is great for the people watching and the quick panini lunch. They also have a great website. Maybe a little risk-taking is all this place needs to be a true desitnation coffeehouse.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Goldrush Coffee Bar

A long time ago I had stopped into Goldrush Coffee Bar about 20 minutes to closing time. The barista told me he had already shut the machine down so I wouldn't be able to get any espresso drinks. Bottled juice anyone? Since that experience I never stepped foot in Goldrush again.

Okay, so I'm not that dramatic. I really just never happened to be in that neighborhood and while craving coffee and so didn't really have the opportunity to give 'em a second chance. But still, I think of that incident every time I drive past on MLK or head down the street to Toro Bravo or the Wonder Ballroom.

I've recently been back several times and discovered that they do have a great staff behind the bar and they serve the Seattle brew Caffe Vita coffee.

Caffe Vita Coffee Roasting Company is a great coffee company with their own distinct personality. All their coffees feel dark and almost bitter but without the sour aftertaste. Just nice prickly coffee, like a good IPA.

I'm not sure what was behind the choice to serve a Seattle coffee with all the nice local roasters we have here, but any coffeehouse that decides to offer something other than Stumptown is, to me, a welcome addition to Portland. In fact they do sell a couple Vita blends and always have two regular and one decaf drip brew on hand.

I love this approach as I've often wondered into a coffeehouse wanting a simple mug of drip coffee only to be faced by Stumptown's exotic "Ethiopia Yirgacheffe" or "Harrar" blend as the only drip option. I always thought these brews were way too flowery or complex to be palatable. So why put this out as your only regular cup-of-joe choice?

For that reason and many others, Goldrush is a great before-work stop. Quick service, lots of breakfast choices (including fruit), and a convenient location on MLK and Russell make it hard to pass up on a dreary Monday morning. The evening scene however is kinda dead. I imagine they don't get much traffic after the workday is done and really can't depend on shows at the Wonder drawing in huge crowds in the early evening. I'm hoping that with all the development on MLK, that will soon change.

It's always been my dream to see coffeehouses so unique and accomodating that they are always teeming with customers and open at all hours. Or at least still pulling shots until they lock the doors and turn off the lights.