1816 SW River Drive
Portland, OR 97201

It was a sunny summer morning when Remington, Everly, Jude, and I visited Kiosko for the first time. Owned by Angel and Lucy, who also run Smalltime Roasters, Kiosko is a brand-new coffee shop in SW Portland near the river. It is located inside South Waterfront City Park in a tiny (just over 200 sq ft) building. The location is lovely, near hotels, restaurants, and parking. South Waterfront park is gorgeous, right near the river, with lots of flowers and places for picnics.

The interior may be small, but thanks to the many windows, retractable window over the bar, and open doors, it did not feel cramped at all. The interior blends seamlessly into the outdoor seating, making it feel like a big, open, airy space. The counter and machines are along one wall of the shop with a bar on the opposite side of the shop, looking out towards the outdoor seating. Outside there are three small tables. The vibe inside is comfortably modern with white walls and chairs, black accents, and wood counters. Unique light fixtures add interest, and potted plants simply continue the lush and green vibe coming in from the surroundings. It is not possible to overstate how many windows this small space has. It is delightful with lots of natural light.

We had met Angel and Lucy at the triangulation that we had gone to in May, which is what turned us on to their new coffee shop. They were both working at the shop when we came by and it was great to chat with them and hear how they got started in coffee and of their vision with Kiosko. They serve both Smalltime Roasters and Junior’s Roasted Coffee in espresso drinks and pour overs. They offer three different styles of pour over, depending on how much coffee you want: Chemex, Hario V60, and Copper Flower, which is their own invention and available for purchase on the merchandise shelves, along with Margaret and Beau mugs. They also offer two different styles of cold coffee: traditional cold brew and Japanese iced coffee. Their milk-based drinks include cortaditos, cappuccinos, and lattes. The cortaditos are available in three different styles: Mexican, Cuban, and Brazilian. The menu looks very simple and is not at all overwhelming, but there are a lot of options. Something for everyone!

We ended up trying quite a few drinks off the menu. I ordered an espresso, as usual. This was their Kiosko blend, 60% Mexican coffee and 40% Ethiopian roasted by Smalltime Roasters. The espresso was served with sparkling water and had a lighter body with lime acidity, fresh peach and nutty sweetness, and a dark cocoa finish. The combination of the Mexican/Ethiopian coffee was really unique and worked well together.

Remington got a Japanese iced coffee with Ethiopian coffee roasted by Smalltime. Everly got both a marionberry lemonade and a vanilla steamer, which came in an adorable vintage plastic mug. Of course Everly loved her drinks. Remington also enjoyed his iced coffee. We also ended up trying the Brazilian cortadito (a tasty and not-too-sweet coffee treat) and the Ethiopian coffee brewed in the copper flower. The copper flower is such a neat invention, and if you’re interested in a single cup of coffee, I recommend trying it. It was a blast to taste so much coffee while dialoguing about process, beans, and inspiration.

We really enjoyed our visit to Kiosko and will definitely be back. I would heartily recommend it to anyone heading to South Waterfront Park, getting coffee-to-go in that area, or who wants a space filled with natural light to hang out at for a bit. In nice weather, it would be a fantastic place to go with a friend or with family and sit outdoors. There is plenty of room for kids to move around and play (Everly and Jude loved climbing around on some tree roots nearby).

Have you been to Kiosko? What coffee shops have you visited lately?

Slow by Slow Coffee

Slow by Slow Coffee
403 S 8th Street
Boise, ID 83702

Remington, Everly, Jude, and I recently took a road trip to see our family in southeastern Idaho. On our way, we were able to stop in Boise to visit my sister and check out some of the local coffee and food. We went to three different coffee shops: The District Coffeehouse on 10th and Bannock in downtown Boise, the Flying M Coffee Garage in Nampa, and Slow by Slow Coffee on 8th Street in the Bodo district of downtown Boise. There is plenty to say about each of the shops, but Slow by Slow most embodies the specialty coffee niche I’m writing about. They are a multi-roaster shop with Ritual Coffee being their mainstay.

Slow by Slow is located in a historic brick building next to boutiques and restaurants. The interior is unique with the counter on the main floor to the left and the sitting area about five steps up, farther back in the building. The floor downstairs is black and white hex tile, the counters black and wood, the back wall brick. There are several large windows and some plants by their merchandise shelf where they sell coffee and coffee making supplies, coffee mugs, shirts, and RX Bars. For free are handy 5×7 cards with brewing instructions for various methods of brewing from Ritual. Even if you already know how to use your brewer of choice, they have nice looking illustration on them and would be a lovely addition to the coffee brewing section of your kitchen. (You do have an entire section of your kitchen devoted solely to coffee brewing, right?) Upstairs floors are black-painted-wood, chairs and tables are woods and metal, walls and trim are black and white or brick. Lighting is not as good upstairs as there are no outside windows. There are three large tables and a couple small tables, as well as a bar looking over the counter area.

The menu includes two espresso options (Ritual’s Acid Test blend and an Ethiopian when I went in), pour over options from three different roasters, available hot or iced, and the usual milk drinks. The barista was friendly and willing to go over any questions we had. I ordered the Acid Test espresso and my sister ordered an iced Costa Rican pour over. We got our drinks and took a seat at one of the small tables to wait for Remington and Everly (who later ordered the Ethiopian espresso and raspberry danish, respectively).

The espresso was really pleasant. It was mildly sweet with a rose aroma, raw sugar sweetness, and grapefruit note which had both acidic and bitter qualities about it. I loved the gentleness, the complexity, and the rose. I love flowers in my espresso.

As far as coffee shops in Idaho go, Slow by Slow is a must-try. I really appreciate their dedication to sourcing quality beans and training well, as well as their effort to bring the Boise coffee scene up a notch. It would be an excellent space for coming with friends, stopping by on your way to the Saturday market, as a place to study or read or write in peace, or as a caffeinated start to an early date. But really, whatever reason you have for visiting a coffee shop, if you’re in the Boise area, Slow by Slow is a great choice.

Where have you enjoyed coffee this week?

Kainos Coffee

Kainos Coffee
6633 NE Sandy Blvd
Portland, OR 97213

Getting coffee while on a date is pretty standard for Remington and I. We both love trying new roasters, experiencing new spaces, and meeting new people. We also both love drinking espresso. Whether we’re hitting up an old favorite or trying a shop we recently heard about, we almost always start our date with coffee. On a Monday evening, we had the opportunity to go on an early evening date. I had been hearing about Kainos Coffee on NE Sandy; since they stay open until 6p and are right across the street from a delicious-looking pizza restaurant, we decided to give it a try.

The shop is located in the Roseway neighborhood of Portland right next to an alterations shop. They have a small parking lot and some outdoor seating. The space isn’t large, but feels comfortable. There is a small bar on the right as you come in, merchandise on the wall adjacent, and the register and white Rocket espresso machine straight ahead. To the left is the majority of their seating, several small tables and another bar, as well as their totally Instagrammable mural which adds a fun and creative focal point. Floors are tile and walls are white, with the exception of the mural wall and black behind the counter. Below the register is painted teal. Tables are wood, chairs are black, white, or teal. The vibe is very fun and energetic.

Marten, one of the owners and barista on shift, greeted us when we arrived and answered questions about their menu and offerings. The menu includes the usual espresso, macchiato, cappuccino, latte, cold brew, and drip, as well as Happy Mountain kombucha, tea, and apple juice for those not into coffee (or just really into kombucha). Remington and I each ordered an espresso. I ordered the Freakin’ Yum, which is a blend of Guatemalan, Honduran, and Ethiopian coffees. Remington ordered the single origin Ethiopian. He also ordered a cold brew, which is also made with the Freakin’ Yum blend. Marten also gave us a sample of the drip coffee to compare, as it is also made with Freakin’ Yum.

The espresso really impressed me. Especially for being a blend, it had some distinct notes that worked well together. It was delightful on its own and would be great with milk as well. It was very juicy and fruity with a grapefruit acidity, muskmelon sweetness, and a lingering herbaceous flavor. I was surprised how well that same blend worked in the cold brew and drip coffee. I don’t drink a lot of cold brew, but it was one of the best that I’ve tried.

As we were the only customers in the shop, we were able to talk with Marten for a while about specialty coffee, community, and vision. What really stands out about Kainos is their commitment to being a valuable part of the local community and meeting people where they’re at, as well as their commitment to donate 21% of their profits to support orphans in the Philippines. It’s exciting to see a coffee shop making such a large impact in the world at large. You can learn more about what Kainos is doing in the Philippines at their website:

Overall, we enjoyed our time at Kainos. It was a really fun and unique atmosphere, and Marten’s passion for coffee, community, and making a difference was inspiring. Because of the unpretentious, community-oriented vibe, I would recommend Kainos to anyone looking for a great cup of coffee or espresso in the Roseway area. It would be a nice place to come with a friend, with family in nice weather (more seating outside), or to work on a laptop, especially utilizing a bar seat.

Have you tried Kainos yet? What were your thoughts?

Case Study Coffee Roasters

Case Study Coffee Roasters
1422 NE Alberta Street
Portland, OR 97211

Remington, Everly, Jude, and I visited Case Study Coffee’s location on Alberta Street on an early Friday afternoon. It was amazingly sunny and warm, and we were enjoying a lovely day off together. Opened in 2010, Case Study Coffee has three different locations: NE Sandy Blvd, SW 10th, and their NE Alberta location. Their location on Alberta is located in a unique, almost warehouse-style building in between brunch and shopping. They have a tree out front that has gorgeous blooms, if you happen to stop by in the springtime. They also have a large garage door in the front of the shop that they open in nice weather, making it an excellent place to go in the summertime.

Cobbled concrete floors, wood + white walls, wood accents, orange chairs, exposed ceiling, and interesting lighting fixtures (including a chandelier shaped like a caffeine molecule) give Case Study a very unique vibe, even among Case Study locations. The photos of coffee farms and coffee cherries on the walls, as well as the roaster in the back, give evidence of the process and the people involved in crafting each drink, even before the espresso machines and baristas. Seating includes a long bench and three tables with chairs on the main floor, where most conversational coffee shop goers seem to gravitate, and in the loft, often used by those on computers or doing quiet work, a large table and several smaller ones. There are also a few small outdoor tables on the side of the building, and two larger ones in the front, along with some kids’ seating in between the two.

The Case Study menu seems quite standard at first glance. There are espresso drinks and coffee, tea and hot chocolate. The drinking chocolate on the menu stands out as unique, as does the house made chai. They also serve kombucha, which is not a standard coffee shop offering. They have housemade syrups for flavored lattes and mochas, and seasonal specialty drinks. They regularly offer two different single origin espresso options. All of those things can be found at some other Portland area specialty shops, but their four different coffee offerings for pour overs (done on a Kalita Wave) really sets Case Study apart. Occasionally the offerings go together, such as four coffees from the same region processed four different ways. Other times they are just a variety of in-season coffees. Either way, we have always had good experiences with Case Study’s pour overs.

The baristas described their espresso offerings for us – one from Nicaragua and one from Guatemala – and gave us time to decide on a drink. Remington and I each got an espresso. I chose the Guatemala and Remington chose Nicaragua. Everly got a cup of milk. Since it was such a gorgeous day, we opted to sit outside and found a spot at one of the outdoor tables, near the kids’ seating area, which Everly was very excited about. The espresso came with the usual accoutrements. The Guatemalan was full and juicy with tart cherry acidity, brown sugar sweetness, with a lavender essence throughout. I really enjoyed it, especially as floral notes are my absolute favorite.

Everly enjoyed her milk and my sparkling water, and loved sitting on a kid-sized bench with her drinks. She also spent some time climbing a tree and playing with Jude in the gravel on the ground. The outdoor area with space for the kids to play around was lovely. It allowed us substantially more time at the coffee shop than we would have had were we indoors, since children (or at least my children) prefer moving around and making noise over sitting quietly, tasting drinks, and writing “notes.” Although Everly does enjoy that too, just not for as long. (Did I mention that last time we visited Case Study, Everly got upset and threw a glass into the wall, causing it to shatter when it hit the ground?) Sometimes our kids look like perfectly behaved angels in coffee shops, and other times I’m a little embarrassed to be present. Nevertheless, if we never took them out, they’d never behave well at a coffee shop, and the pleasant times far outweigh the challenging ones.

Overall, our experience at Case Study was excellent. We really enjoyed the opportunity to drink some good espresso and hang out in the sun. I highly recommend Case Study Alberta on a warm and sunny day to couples, friends, and families, and anytime for those looking a good pour over and wanting to hang out to study or chat with a friend.

Have you been to Case Study Alberta? Any stories about children at coffee shops?

Foxy Coffee Co.

Foxy Coffee Co.
3640 SE Belmont St
Portland, OR 97214

On a wonderfully sunny Friday morning, Remington, Everly, Jude and I stopped at Foxy Coffee Co. to enjoy some espresso, cold brew, and sun. We had participated in the triangulation at Foxy Coffee, but we hadn’t really had a chance to check out their drinks and what the atmosphere feels like when there is not an event going on. Foxy Coffee Co is very new to the area, they moved to Portland in March of 2016 and, after having pop-ups in other people’s spaces, opened in their own space on SE Belmont in February of this year (2017). Their location may be new, but the owners of this proudly family run business have been in coffee for 10+ years altogether. It was really a delight to meet the whole family while we were in and learn just a little about their journey.

If you have ever been to SE Belmont, you know that it is a somewhat eclectic mix of residential houses, retail shops, and construction. Parking is challenging to find in some stretches, easy in others. Foxy Coffee Co is located in an older green-painted building with character, right between houses on one side and businesses on the other, on a usually-easy-to-find-parking stretch.

When we entered the shop, Everly immediately was drawn to the kid’s table in one corner where another little girl was already playing with legos. It was a fabulous thing for them to include in the shop. Everly played quietly for a while while we waited in line, ordered, and took the first sips of our drinks. The shop is light and bright and open. It isn’t a huge space, but the huge front windows, pale blue walls, and minimal furnishings keep the space feeling airy. Wood floors, wood tables and chairs, and plants add warmth and earthiness. Two chandeliers give the space character. The bar is from Foxy Coffee’s pop-up days and is very minimal with a one-group La Marzocco espresso machine. There are three 3-4 person tables and three unique one-person spaces along one wall.

The menu is very simple and straightforward with three different sizes for milk & espresso (3, 8, and 12), brewed coffee, chai, and hot chocolate. Foxy Coffee roasts their own coffee and generally has two different single origin coffees available for purchase. They also sell local Margaret and Beau mugs and Nineteen27 marshmallow kits. The El Salvador Finca La Siberia was the available espresso when I came in. Remington ordered a cold brew, and both of us ordered an espresso. The barista/shop owner described the El Salvador as a comfort coffee, and I would say he was right. It was a delicious, straightforward espresso with a bright hibiscus acidity, silky sugar cane sweetness, and a lingering cocoa finish. I really enjoyed it.

One thing that sets Foxy Coffee apart is their passion for people and community. Building community through the shop is important to them, and generosity is a core value. The espresso was great, and the space is comfortable, and it is their desire to make a difference in the community that makes them really stand out. I would definitely come back. It is a great place to come with a child or two that feels like playing quietly at the kid’s table. It would also be a nice place to come with friends, and I would love to come back by myself sometime just to sit at one of the little one person bar/tables and do some writing.

Have you been to Foxy Coffee Co? What did you think? Connect in the comments!


8235 SE 13th Ave, Ste 2
Portland, OR 97202

Either/Or, a small coffee shop in the Sellwood neighborhood of Portland, is a longtime favorite of ours. Although it is a longtime favorite, we don’t visit nearly as much as I’d like, due to its being a bit out of the way. Nevertheless, we did make it by on a recent drizzly Friday morning. Sellwood itself is an exceptionally pleasant neighborhood of Portland. Every time I visit, it delights me with its older, well-maintained houses, cute shops and restaurants, family friendly vibe, and very cozy feel. Either/Or itself is located on 13th Avenue, next to an upscale children’s consignment shop and near boutiques, a flower shop, and a salon. The exterior is a welcoming green with paned windows and a picnic table for outdoor seating.

The vibe inside Either/Or is very similar to that of Sellwood as a whole. It is cute and cozy, with comfortable, retro furnishings. The walls are a cream color and the floors are fake wood. Although the space is quite small, the mirror on the wall and high ceilings with beams and pendant lights help the space to feel cozy rather than confined. There is a bench on one wall with three two-person tables. A couch and coffee table provide a serene spot near the windows. An old-fashioned refrigerator adds to the vintage feel. When we arrived, the shop was empty, so we claimed the nook with the couch and coffee table. The baristas were easygoing and made us feel welcomed, offering to answer any questions we had about the menu.

Although the usual coffee shop drinks are available: drip coffee, espresso + milk based drinks, and cold brew, the Either/Or menu is unique in a few ways. First, they have two espresso options from rotating micro roasters. When we went in, Colombia Las Flores by 49th Parallel and Peru Martina Salas by Re-Animator were on the menu. Second, they offer hand made soda and coffee mocktails, both very well done. Their chai is also house made. Finally, they offer both espresso and beverage flights which include either each espresso or an espresso and a milk-based drink plus a taste pairing and sparkling water. Remington and I opted for the beverage flight plus an additional espresso. Everly got a chocolate chip cookie and Jude is still a bit young to be ordering things at a coffee shop.

The beverage flight came out on a wood tray. First was the Colombia Las Flores espresso. It was delightfully full and heavy, and very sweet with a definite rose water note. Next came the cortado, made with the Peru Martina Salas. The ratio was excellent, milk well steamed, latte art lovely, and flavor sweet, creamy, and nutty. The taste pairing was a tiny pecan pie which went splendidly with the sweet, nutty taste of the cortado. Finally, we tried the Peru Martina Salas on its own as an espresso. It had a round body with a hazelnut brittle sweetness and lingering cinnamon/nutmeg finish. All in all, it was a fantastic espresso experience. Everything was done very well and the baristas dialogued with us about it a bit after we finished, which I always enjoy.

We had a lovely experience at Either/Or. From the neighborhood to the space to the baristas and the drinks, our time there was cozy and enjoyable. It would be a fantastic spot to have coffee with a friend, or to go alone and enjoy the coffee experience. Their sodas and chai make it a great place to go with someone who doesn’t like coffee as well. I also love it as a place to take my family, but as it is a small space, if the tables are full, it can sometimes be a quick trip. Nevertheless it is a favorite of mine, and I highly recommend it.

Where have you been to coffee this week? Have you tried Either/Or?

Upper Left Roasters

Upper Left Roasters
1204 SE Clay Street
Portland, OR 97214

A relatively new coffee shop, Upper Left Roasters opened in 2015. Remington, Everly, Jude, and I stopped by on a partly sunny Friday morning at the suggestion of a friend. We had visited before, but their current single origin espresso, Keneon Chire from Ethiopia, was reported to be especially delicious, possibly one of the best ever tasted by our much esteemed coffee friend, so of course we had to try it. The shop is located in the “upper left” corner of Ladd’s Addition, in South East Portland. It’s right on a corner and has quite a bit of outdoor seating during the warmer months. There are lots of windows, so even when it’s too cold to sit outdoors, natural light is abundant.

The interior of the shop feels very open and airy, partly due to the windows and a skylight over the entryway. That feeling is reinforced by white walls, exposed ceiling beams (also painted white) white chairs, and light colored wood for the tables, counter, and accents. The floors are non-homogenous glazed concrete which adds warmth and character, preventing the space from feeling too formal or cold. The roaster is visible on the left side of the cafe. The cafe flow is natural, with merchandise to the left of the counter, the register directly in front of the entryway, and condiments/silverware to the right. There are a couple of large tables, several small tables, and a bar along the perimeter of the shop, providing lots of seating, which is good, because they are usually busy.

Not only does Upper Left serve coffee and espresso drinks, they also have a food menu including toasts and egg dishes. It is perfect for a light brunch, and all of the food I have tried has been delicious. Espresso options include one single origin, their house blend, and a decaf option. There are two coffee options, one for drip and one for pour overs (done on a Kalita Wave). One of my favorite things about the shop is their house-made almond-macadamia nut milk. I always appreciate coffee shops making their own alternative milk, as store bought milk options often have fillers and additives that I don’t especially want to put in my body. Plus, house made milks usually taste amazing, and Upper Left’s almond-macadamia milk definitely does.

The barista who helped us with our order greeted us while finishing up a pour over, and was quite friendly, something I always appreciate; no one wants a snobby barista, even if they do make good coffee. I ordered their espresso blend, as I feel that gives a good baseline as to how well shots are pulled and how intentional a coffee shop is about quality across the board. Of course, Remington ordered the Keneon Chire that we had come in to try, as well as a cold brew. We got a chocolate chip cookie to split, and an iced almond-macadamia milk for Everly. Another awesome thing about Upper Left: they offer a complementary kid’s drink. I didn’t know that prior to ordering, but it was a pleasant surprise and made me feel even more valued as a customer. Coffee shops can sometimes feel unwelcoming towards children, and I really appreciate the effort that Upper Left puts in making me feel that my child is gladly received in their shop. I could go on about children and coffee shops, but I’ll save that for its own post.

We found a couple seats at one of the large tables to enjoy our drinks. Despite a line when we came in, our espressos came out pretty quickly and were served in white Not Neutral demitasses with sparkling water on the side. There was no spoon with the espresso, which was unusual for specialty coffee shops, but if they prefer their customers to drink their espresso without stirring, then it would make sense to not give a spoon. The espresso blend tasted full and balanced, with a chocolatey body, and spicy finish, like nutmeg and cayenne. It was not my favorite shot of espresso, but it would work nicely in milk; a macchiato or cappuccino would be delightful. I did have a sip of the Keneon Chire as well and it was amazing. To me it tasted just like apricot jam, although strawberry was supposed to be a major flavor note. Either way, it was delicious.

In past visits, Upper Left Roasters has felt a bit aloof, with lots of people on computers and an almost library-like vibe, but this visit, it felt much more comfortable, with friendly baristas, people chatting, and a welcoming atmosphere. It would be an ideal place to come and work on something at a computer, but it would also work well as a place to catch up with friends or enjoy a morning brunch date. It has more outdoor seating than most Portland coffee shops, making it an excellent choice during warm months.

If you have been to Upper Left, what did you think? Where have you been to coffee lately? Connect in the comments!

Triangulation and Children

Triangulation Competition
Foxy Coffee Co.
9 May 2017

Following local coffee shops on Instagram provides particular benefits, including finding out about low-key triangulation competitions going on. When I saw that Foxy Coffee Co. was putting on a triangulation at their shop on SE Belmont on a Tuesday evening that I was available, I jumped at the opportunity to participate. I had never participated in a triangulation before, but I had heard about them, and I thought it would be a lot of fun.

For those who have not heard of a triangulation before, a bit of explanation is warranted. Triangulation is a way to taste different coffees. As the name implies, it involves sets of three coffees. Of the three coffees, two are the same and one is different. The goal in a triangulation is to taste the three coffees and pick the odd one out. Depending on one’s level of experience, and the coffees used, this can be extremely difficult. It could be as different as a lightly roasted, fruity coffee from Ethiopia and a dark roast from Starbucks, or as similar as two similarly roasted and processed coffees from different farms in the same country. This triangulation was somewhere in between, although I never did ask about the particular coffees used, so I can’t say with certainty. It consisted of six sets of three coffees and about ten people participated. I had no idea what to expect as far as difficulty. I had never tested my palate in that way. While I do try to be mindful of what I’m tasting when drinking coffee in everyday life, I couldn’t say how good a job I would do at it.

I went to the triangulation with Remington, Everly, and Jude. I love going to coffee events with my children. There is definitely more involved in taking them to events: my attention is somewhat diverted from whatever is going on, as they do need to be conversed with and cared for. On the other hand, the opportunity to share with them things that I love is priceless, and they do enjoy their time more often than not. To me, bringing my children in to the things I am passionate about is valuable for a number of reasons. A big one is that it shows them a side of me beyond simply “mom” and gives them an example of what pursuing their own interests can look like. I don’t want my life to revolve around my children any more than I want my life to revolve around my marriage or work. Instead, I want to intentionally integrate my children into my everyday life, along with marriage and work, creating an integrated whole of my life, rather than fragmented modes of “mom,” “wife,” “work,” “self-care,” “spirituality,” and so on.

I am a human being, I am a woman, I am a mom and a wife and a Christian and a writer and a homemaker and a barista, and I don’t have time to partition my life out into a hundred different boxes. I clean the house with my children, I pray and recite scripture while I’m cooking dinner, I take care of myself by pulling shots and pouring lattes, I hang out with my husband at coffee shops and triangulations. Sure, there are times when I focus on one aspect of myself in particular, but I don’t try to “balance” the various aspects of my life. I find ways to bring all of myself, or as much of myself as possible, into every situation.

So, I bring my children to triangulations to show them what it looks like to pursue one’s interests while living an integrated life. Yes, there were a couple times that Remington or I had to take Everly outside for a few minutes to help her calm down, and I probably should have brought more snacks for her. Yes, it was a little challenging to juggle children, especially while concentrating and tasting coffees. Yes, we had to leave directly after the event instead of hanging out afterwards. And yes, little Jude had a few moments of frustration that he couldn’t crawl everywhere and chew on everything. Nevertheless, I would do it again happily. I got to have a blast participating in a triangulation with Remington, Everly was exposed to people that she wouldn’t have met otherwise and saw her parents having fun doing something they enjoyed, Jude really just wants to be with his mom all the time, so he appreciated not having a babysitter. And honestly, it’s important to me to expose other people to the idea that life isn’t over after having children, and you don’t need to either stop doing things for fun or have the extra money to pay for a babysitter every time you want to do something you enjoy. Children really are a blessing and a joy and bring such awareness and growth in life. My children expand my ideas about what is possible and what is important, and I have the express privilege of exposing them to things I find fascinating and fun. Why wouldn’t I involve them?

Photo credit: Angel (@smalltimeroasters)
I tasted six sets of three coffees with little Everly on my back. I tried a new way of enjoying and appreciating coffee, and stretched my coffee tasting abilities. I took almost seven minutes to try the coffees (seven minutes was the cutoff time), and when the results came in, I had gotten four of six correct and won second place! It was really exciting and encouraging for me. It is good to know that all my work intentionally tasting coffees is actually creating results and allowing me to distinguish differences in coffees. Remington got three out of six correct and took a minute or two less time than I did. Oddly, he got correct the coffees that I got wrong, and I got correct the coffees he got wrong. Apparently we make a good pair. I look forward to participating in another triangulation someday soon. And if they’re interested, someday I’ll be able to share the entire experience with my children and we’ll all be tasting coffees together. I look forward to that, but in the mean time, I will keep exposing them to things I’m interested in and keep living an integrated life with coffee and children and everything else.

Have you participated in a triangulation? What do you think about exposing children to your interests? Share your thoughts and experiences!

Photo credit: Elizabeth Chai (@chaiamericano)

Courier Coffee Roasters

Courier Coffee Roasters
923 SW Oak St
Portland, OR 97205

I first visited Courier Coffee Roasters around the same time I first visited Coava. It made a huge impression on me at the time and I frequently cite it as my favorite Portland coffee shop (although that changes depending on my mood and who’s asking). It is hard to define why exactly I love Courier so much. Emily McIntyre, in a PDX Eater article which I can no longer locate, called Courier “a quintessential Portland coffee shop,” and I have to agree. While it may not be a typical coffee shop, to me, it embodies the real Portland: grungy, understated, distinctive, legit hipster, and freaking awesome.

It was a sunny Friday in the late afternoon when Remington, Everly, Jude, and I visited Courier. The windowed shop front let it copious amounts of light and made the space feel a bit larger. The floor is concrete, the walls are white. Decorations are sparse and consist of local art for sale. Tables are white, chairs are wood, as is the counter and the bar by the window. Music consists of vinyl records chosen and switched out by the baristas regularly. It is not a large shop; there are three two-person tables and one four-person table, along with a few seats along the counter and the bar in the window. The menu is written on the window and also on a rectangle of card stock at the bar. As far as coffee shop spaces go, this one never pretends to be upscale or polished. As others have mentioned, cleaning doesn’t seem to have very high priority, except the espresso machine and the space behind the counter, which always looks clean and presentable, if a bit cluttered with supplies and ingredients. They’re not trying to win an award for their space, and I’m fairly confident they didn’t hire an interior designer, but it feels refreshingly un-done up and casual.

Despite the fact that I love Courier and love espresso, I had never actually ordered an espresso. Their 8 oz mocha is so incredibly thick and rich and delicious, not to mention very hipster in a mason jar, that I hadn’t bothered to order anything else. If you like drinks mostly consisting of amazing chocolate with a little espresso, I highly recommend the mocha. This time, although I did still order a mocha, I tried the espresso as well. Remington ordered a pour over and Everly was happy to drink the sparkling water, plus sips of my mocha. The espresso came with a full 8 oz of sparkling water in a mason jar. It was pulled very short, maybe a little too short as it left me wanting another. It felt light and smooth with a note of sugar cane and lots of sweetness. There was more complexity than that, but the shot was so short, I didn’t have enough sips to analyze it all. It was really good. It was really good. I cannot believe I never tried it sooner, it will definitely be what I order next time I go in, unless I am in desperate need of chocolate.

I love Courier Coffee Roasters a lot. More than just espresso and milk and chocolate, it provides a unique experience of Portland. I recommend ordering either an espresso or an 8 oz mocha for here and just sitting, observing, experiencing. It would also be a good shop to come with a friend or a sketchbook.

Have you been to Courier? I would love to hear what you think of it. Where have you been to coffee this week? Let me know in the comments!

Coava Coffee Roasters: Brew Bar

Coava Coffee Roasters
1300 SE Grand Ave
Portland, OR 97214

When the sun shines in Portland, it makes some of the decisions for you, like the decision to go to coffee at Coava Coffee Roasters Brew Bar on SE Grand. I still have not been to their new Espresso Bar on Hawthorne, but I love the Brew Bar’s many large lead glass windows and spacious interior shared with Bamboo Revolution. Coava (pronounced kōvuh) is a Portland coffee culture staple started in 2008, and was actually the first place I tried espresso back in 2011, an experience I won’t forget. They are super solid roasters, source excellent coffees, and the baristas are on point. You can always expect some fantastic coffee or espresso when you visit.

Coava’s space is on the corner of Grand and SE Main Street. Lead glass windows are plenty, letting in copious amounts of light and adding even more character to the older building. Concrete floors and walls with wood furnishings, ceiling, and accents don’t infringe on the spaciousness of the shop while the Probat roaster next to the bar and the old metal working milling machine in the corner add some interest to the otherwise sparse space. There is a bar along the south wall with lots of outlets for those interested in working on their computer. The floor holds several larger tables great for sitting with a group of people or alone, and the milling machine, which has been converted into a bar-height table.

The barista offered to answer any questions we had while deciding on drinks. One thing I love about Coava is how simple their menu is. It consists of two single origin offers for pour overs and two single origin espresso options which can be made into any traditional milk based drink or a honey latte. I ordered their Los Nacientes, Costa Rica espresso. Remington ordered the other single origin espresso, and Everly got a pastry. The espresso was served with water and was really enjoyable with a bite of acidity at the front end, a sweet body reminiscent of dried apricots and graham, and a very smooth finish. I think it would go splendidly with milk, although it was delightful all on its own. I also tried a sip of Remington’s espresso, which was an Ethiopian, although I don’t remember the region. It was the most incredible burst of berry I think I’ve ever had in an espresso.

If you have never been to Coava, I highly recommend checking it out. I would put it on the short list of essential Portland coffee shops, and I’m not the only one. The openness, the windows, the baristas, not to mention the straight up excellent coffee and espresso, come together to make it a wonderful place to come for coffee either alone or with group. You can’t go wrong with anything on their menu, but it is the perfect place to come for a pour over or espresso.

Where have you gone to coffee this week? Have you been to Coava’s Brew Bar or Espresso Bar? Tell me what you think!