Feel free to congratulate me, I've officially "arrived" Portland style: I bought a bike.
With the bike comes bike-commuting, which comes with it some serious consideration as to how many blocks out of my way I will pedal to get good coffee pre-work. So far the number of blocks is zero.
It's incredible that I can name at least half a dozen locations that are open and selling coffee on my way to work and yet still not be satisfied with my options. Portland has spoiled us all.
Anyway, when you are absolutely fed up with your half a dozen morning coffee options sometimes it's worth it to look just a little bit harder and voila! I found Caffe Destino.
This coffeehouse works hard to avoid being detected. They have no website that I've found. The are off of 15th Ave. on Fremont behind Whole Foods and down the block from Starbucks.
If you get there early enough, this place is just about perfect. Lots of breakfast options, Caffe Vita coffee, large tables and competent staff.
If you get there later in the morning....well, I've never witnessed it, but the comments on those restaurant review sites are an even split between those who seem to hate loud kids and the mom's who hate people who hate loud kids.
It's the classic "family-friendly" vs. "public Romper Room" conundrum that many neighborhood coffeehouses have to face. It's hard to spurn either camp as both are dedicated customers.
A good warning sign is the mini kid's table and available toys tucked in the corner. If you see this in any coffeehouse then you should evaluate how important that espresso is to you.
Which brings to mind an incident I experienced in a popular coffeehouse last weekend. Three dogs tied up outside, with owners, and one dog says to the other "I can bark really really loud, and for quite a long while without stopping!"
Not long after that, a barista emerges and says that people have been complaining about the barking and then kinda left the solution hanging in the air. The owner wasn't really pleased and didn't do much to fix the situation. Such a rock and hard place scenario.
Perhaps if the coffeehouse has one of those water bowls out front for dogs, then that would be an equally valid warning sign that dogs are expected to loiter and occasionally bark. You can't really complain if the coffeehouse is being inviting to animals, right?
So if a coffeehouse puts out some copies of Dr. Suess and a tiny table tucked in the corner, then you can't complain about the rug-rat infestation.
You'll just have to look a little harder to find your own coffee niche, but trust me, it's out there.
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