Sunday, June 28, 2009

Portland Coffeehouse Journal: The Vegan Post

To be clear, I'm not vegan. Though I am a fan. I marvel at the will it takes to completely eschew all animal products from your life and strive to live "cruelty free."

Really, it would just be nice to lose some weight and learn how to incorporate kohlrabi into an everyday diet.

But let's say you're vegan and you love your espresso. What to do?

Aside from checking out this great photo tour of Portland's best soy lattes from preeminent local vegan blogger, Jess of Let's Get Sconed, please join me on a short tour of Portland's vegan and vegan-friendly coffeehouses.

Now, I've only found one completely vegan coffeehouse and that is Sweetpea Baking Co. While more "bakery" than "coffeehouse," they do serve espresso and always feature cute folks typing on laptops and perhaps nursing a brand new vegan tattoo from neighbor Scapegoat Tattoo, so they count as a coffeehouse in my book.

This place has absolutely no animal products to offer. As in, you will need to get your latte with rice, soy, almond or hemp milk. The prices are still reasonable and the milks are carefully handled to stand up to the steaming and mixing.

Sweetpea serves up Stumptown coffee and by far one of the best scones I've ever had, vegan or not. They also feature a weekend brunch that is killer. Get stuffed on the freshest breakfast items from a rotating menu. If you live in Portland, you must try this brunch at least once in your life.

Next up is Black Sheep Bakery, also mainly a bakery that sells their treats at farmer's markets and local grocery stores, but their two shop locations are a great place to stop in for fresh-baked muffins and bars.

Black Sheep does not discriminate against us omnivores and does offer moo milk with your coffee. As well, their 523 NE 19th location serves up vegan and non-vegan lunch and breakfast items.

I have to admit that I don't enjoy their baked goods as much as Sweetpea's. Too much molasses for my tastes. At each location they serve up Portland Roasting coffee, which, as I've said before, is not one of my favorite roasters.

I think with a little quality control and tweaking of their muffin recipes, Black Sheep could be a great shop. But it is not at the top of my list.

At the very bottom of my list is The Waypost on N. Williams. I only include it here because they had all vegan items in their display case and had mostly vegan lunch selections.

When I stopped in it was about 8am on a weekday and the only offerings were bagels and one or two vegan muffins. Both of these muffins were stuffed with vegan sausage.

I bought the vegan-sausage-stuffed-muffin. Was a little apprehensive about what it would taste like? Yes. How was it? Let's just say one bite was all I needed to stuff the muffin back in the bag and make a bee line to a different coffeehouse for a decent breakfast.

I think a vegan-sausage-stuffed-muffin could be an incredibly delicious treat, this one was not.

But a yucky muffin was not the only disappointing part of The Waypost. The barista was distracted, almost forgetting to even take my payment. And when he handed me my 12 oz. latte, there was only about 10 oz. of latte in the cup.

It's funny that we sometimes only spend about 3-5 minutes in a coffeehouse and in that time several things can go horribly wrong and turn us off of a place forever.

When you live in a city with so many coffee options, coffeehouses have to be on top of their game all the time in order to keep customers coming back.

Looking to offer another vegan choice in Portland is Back to Eden Bakery. Providing New Seasons Market Concordia with baked vegan goods, Back to Eden Bakery is about to open its doors on its first retail location at 2217 NE Alberta St. any day now. Here's hoping Back to Eden will be serving up some quality coffee along side their cakes and cookies.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the vegan-friendly coffeehouses in Portland. Seven Virtues Coffee in East Portland also has many vegan options. But this should be enough to get you started on your way to getting caffeinated without the cruel.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Coffee at Portland Pride 2009

On Sunday, June 14th the Gay Pride Parade made its way through downtown Portland. What does this have to do with local coffee? Well, the Mayor's Office invited all the local bike groups to be a part of their "float" and joining them was local coffee purveyors Trailhead Coffee Roasters and Courier Coffee Roasters.

Above is Joel of Courier Coffee Roasters giving his ride a little pride.