Relevant Coffee | Vancouver, WA

Relevant Coffee

1703 Main Street

Vancouver, WA 98663

I first visited Relevant Coffee in March of 2017, shortly after they opened, and shortly after beginning documenting my coffee shop adventures. In the slightly over two years that Relevant has been serving coffee in their own cafe, they have grown and become one of the mainstay Vancouver coffee shops. Last week, they opened a new cafe, just around the corner from their old one, but approximately 10x bigger, complete with space for their roastery to move on-site. Remington and I (and the children) went to check it out and support them in their soft opening on May 7.

The shop was pleasantly full with a cheerful hum of customer conversation, coffee grinding, and milk steaming. The windows covering two sides of the shop let in lots of beautiful natural light. The mix of wood, white, and light gray, along with plants and fresh-cut flowers, encourage the light, bright, and welcoming atmosphere. There is ample seating with small tables along a bench along one of the windowed walls, couches and comfy chairs, a big table in the middle, and smaller, standing-height tables along the wall adjacent to the bar. The roastery area is located behind a wall of window, wood, and coffee bag panels behind the counter.

Relevant serves two rotating single origin espressos, a filter coffee option, and three cold tap options: a nitro cold brew, a single origin cold brew, and a nitro iced tea. Of course, they also have the usual macchiato, cappuccino, latte options, as well as chai, a house turmeric latte, and a mocha made with local Ranger chocolate. We ordered a single origin cold brew (Ethiopia), a breve macchiato with their Columbian espresso, and a steamer for the kids.

Photo by Jude

The drinks were lovely, my macchiato came out in a teal demitasse with a spoon and sparkling water. It was creamy and smooth, with a gentle espresso flavor that paired well with the half and half. The cold brew was exceptional, it was so juicy, Remington and I both thought it reminiscent of mango juice, in a really wonderful way. Of course Everly and Jude enjoyed their steamer, although Everly was more interested in watching the people working on some of the finishing touches on the exterior of the shop.

As far as child-friendliness goes, it was overall really nice. It wasn’t library-quiet, which is always a relief, and my children found the cactuses behind one of the benches quite engaging to look at. As they move the roastery into the space they have set aside for it, I would expect that would offer another source of diversion if a steamer and coloring or books isn’t sufficient to maintain attention. The only downside was that there is no changing table in the bathroom, which is a common problem in that part of Vancouver. On account of that, I would have to give it a 5 out of 10 for family friendliness, even though the shop itself was very welcoming.

Overall, Relevant is a great shop. I am so excited to see them embark on this next step in their business, with a larger shop and moving their roastery on-site. I will continue to be a semi-regular customer, and would suggest Relevant to anyone looking to get together with a friend, get some work done, or needing a midday coffee stop, especially if you’re ordering cold brew.

SW British Columbia Coffee

As I mentioned in my last post on Hey Happy, we visited Victoria and Vancouver, BC earlier this month. As promised, here is an overview of some of the shops we visited and other local recommendations.

Victoria, BC

Hey Happy

560 Johnson Street

Review here!

Bows and Arrows Coffee Roasters

683 Garbally Road

We really enjoyed the coffee at Bows and Arrows, and had possibly the most personal and friendly service of the trip there. The shop is located in their roastery, which is neat, and also noisy. For us, the noise was kind of relaxing, as the kids could be as loud as they wanted to be and it wasn’t a disturbance. Nevertheless, potential for noise is something to be aware of, should you be in search of a coffee shop for the purpose of catching up with a friend; it might not be the best option. BUT everything was done really well, it was fun to see their roastery in action, and the shop had a casual, unpretentious vibe, which I appreciated.

Vancouver, BC

Timbertrain Coffee Roasters

311 West Cordova Street

Timbertrain was our first Vancouver coffee stop. The interior layout is very unique and has a lot of seating, despite the smaller size of the shop, and huge windows at the front of the shop let in lots of natural light. Their pour over set up is aesthetically appealing, with several different coffees to choose from, and the coffee was great. Their espresso when we went in was a choice of two different blends. For single-origin lovers, it was a little disappointing, but they did do an excellent job on both of the blends with flavor combos you couldn’t get from a SO.


325 Cambie Street

Revolver was our second coffee stop in Vancouver. It also may have been our favorite Vancouver coffee stop. They are a multiroaster shop, offering two different espressos and a variety of pour over options. We opted for the flight, which included a single shot of two different espressos, and a single shot macchiato of each espresso. I loved the layout of the flight; I enjoy trying everything, and that’s exactly what it felt like. The shop is in a busy part of town, and seemed to be pretty popular because it was packed. We found a spot to squeeze our family of five, but it definitely doesn’t top the list of places to hang out with a family. It would be excellent for one or two people to hang out. We still loved it, the espresso was great, and the baristas were friendly and more than willing to answer questions that I had about the roasters and origins represented in the drinks we got.

nemesis coffee

302 W Hastings Street

Our next coffee stop in Vancouver was nemesis. They roast their own coffee and also offer what I’ve heard is a killer brunch menu. Truth be told, we should have nixed our restaurant brunch plans and come to nemesis instead; the food looked amazing. As it was, we stopped by shortly before closing and ordered a Rwandan espresso and an herbal tea. The timing of our visit was not ideal: it was pretty empty in the shop, which made the loud music seem out of place, and the kids were a little restless, which made sitting and enjoying our drinks challenging. The espresso seemed like it had great potential and the tea was good. I really want to come back and try it earlier in the day, as I think that would give me a more accurate picture of the shop. In fact, even not having come for brunch, I would almost recommend skipping your brunch plans and going to nemesis instead because the menu and reviews were just that good. And how awesome is it to actually be able to order great coffee when you’re out for brunch?

49th Parallel Coffee

2902 Main Street

Our final stop, 49th Parallel, is widely known and often offered at multi-roaster shops in Portland, so we felt like we should check out the real thing while we were in town. All 49th Parallel locations also make doughnuts. We stopped by their Mount Pleasant location on our way out of town to grab doughnuts and coffee. We got a macchiato, espresso, and drip. The drinks did not disappoint. Even with the shop being incredibly busy, the drinks were just right, really well-pulled shots and nicely steamed milk. Definitely high on the list of best shops I’ve been to as far as coffee quality goes. The doughnuts were also super good, although a word to the wise – they are big and very sweet and the two- and four-year olds do not need their own, especially if you are heading on a several-hour road trip when you leave. Some doughnut holes to split as a family might be a good option. The shop was a very cool space, although as I mentioned, very busy. It was a challenge to find somewhere to sit, even despite the large shop. Nevertheless, I would definitely go there again, and maybe check out that neighborhood of Vancouver next time. It reminded me of some of my favorite areas of Portland.

In case you are planning a trip to the Vancouver area of British Columbia, here are a few non-coffee activities that we really enjoyed.

Victoria, BC

The weather was gorgeous while we were in Victoria, so most of our activities took place outside. Walking around near the harbor and around the Parliament buildings is fun and free, just be aware that public restrooms close early in the off season, so if you have young children, maybe use the restroom before leaving the restaurant. Beacon Hill Park was lovely. It didn’t seem exciting just driving around it, but walking around in the gardens, watching the ducks and geese swimming and diving in the ponds, and finding little trails to explore was fun for everyone. They also have a playground which the children also enjoyed. Public transportation in the form of buses are plentiful in Victoria, including double-decker buses. If you have some time, get some Canadian cash ($5 per person over 6 years old) and ride one of the double-decker buses for a while. Our kids LOVED it.

Whistler, BC

We spent a day in Whistler riding the gondolas and playing in the snow. Tons of fun for everyone, also super expensive, although children 6 and under are free. I recommend eating in Whistler Village before heading up the mountain/after getting back. The food at the lodges on Whistler and Blackcomb mountains was really expensive and not amazing enough to justify the price (in my opinion). PureBread had some delicious baked goods.

Vancouver, BC

Vancouver was more challenging for us; it was raining the couple days we were there and all of our plans for what to do were outdoor activities. We did check out a record shop, and went to Stanley Park despite the rain. It was fun to drive around the park in the rain, and we did get out a couple times to see the harbor. If you happen to be there when it is sunny, it would be absolutely delightful. I would love to hear any indoor activities that you’ve loved in Vancouver!

Hey Happy | Victoria, BC

We recently returned from a family trip to British Columbia. We checked out Victoria, Whistler, and Vancouver, and had so much fun. It is absolutely gorgeous! The trees and mountains and cliffs and water all combine to make something quite magical. Even the rainy, foggy days were beautiful in their own way. Before we left home, I had selected a few coffee shops that I wanted to try. Even after narrowing it down, I chose too many to try, but we did enjoy a lot of good coffee.

After spending a night at a super cute tiny home in the woods near Port Angeles, WA, we took a ferry to Victoria, BC. We got in at about 3:30, which gave us enough time to check into our Airbnb just outside of downtown and take a bus to our first coffee shop of the trip: Hey Happy.

Hey Happy was quite possibly my favorite coffee shop of the trip. It is in a bustling part of town, nestled amongst a variety of shops and restaurants, near the water, walking distance from Parliament. The shop itself has huge front windows, white walls, wood tables, and a bright green accent wall behind the counter. They serve the usual drinks, a few coffee based specials, and a few coffee-free specials. They also serve amazing-looking pastries. We were super tempted to get the homemade “Oreos”, but since we were heading straight for dinner, we resisted.

I ordered the cashew latte, which is a latte made with house cashew milk. I’m a sucker for good housemade milks, so I had to give it a try. Remington got their single-origin espresso, a Kenyan. Everly and Jude got a steamer, which I have started to bring our own cup for. Getting a ceramic cup for them is sometimes stressful, but I hate using a disposable cup, so, I started carrying an 8oz Pura bottle for them. In addition to being metal, and therefore unbreakable, and also not disposable, it has the benefit of having a lid that completely seals, so if they don’t finish their drink, I can put the lid on and throw it in my backpack without getting milk everywhere.

The latte and espresso came in unique handleless ceramics with a textured glaze. The espresso came on a board with water and a spoon. I didn’t take notes, so I don’t remember specific flavor notes, but both the espresso and the cashew milk latte were lovely. Even Remington (who doesn’t prefer alternative milks) was impressed with the cashew milk latte. It was so smooth and creamy, and had a mild flavor that didn’t get in the way of the espresso.

After our coffee date, we headed to dinner nearby at The Drake Eatery. We then walked through Fan Tan Alley (everything was already closed, but it still looked cool), got some dessert at Beavertails, and walked around near the harbor and by the Parliament buildings. After the sun set, we took a double-decker bus back to our Airbnb. It was a lovely evening. Weather was perfectly warm and sunny, the coffee and food were wonderful, and Victoria really is beautiful.

If you ever make it to Victoria, I highly recommend Hey Happy for coffee. The location is convenient for sightseeing and window shopping and the quality is superb. You can expect an overview of the coffee shops we visited in British Columbia in the next couple weeks, but I wanted to highlight Hey Happy, because it was really fantastic.

Neckar Coffee | Boise, Idaho

Neckar Coffee

117 S 10th Street

Boise, Idaho 83702

March 2019

This year, Remington and I decided to take a three-day weekend to explore the PNW as a family each month. Having that intentional exploration and family time on a regular basis has been great. This month, we went to Boise, Idaho, to watch my sister in a production of Into the Woods. She’s graduating college this year (with a double major in biology and music!), and we still hadn’t been to any of her musicals. She was excited about her role (the baker’s wife), and since Boise isn’t too far, we made it happen. Of course, while we were in town, we went to a couple coffee shops. I recently was made aware of some new coffee shops in Boise, and wanted to check them out. One of them was Neckar Coffee in downtown Boise.

Back when Remington and I lived in Boise, I remember going to Neckar Coffee’s pour-over bar at the farmer’s market. We ordered a coffee and chatted with those working at the stand for about half a minute, because it was super popular and busy. We were really excited then that excellent third wave coffee was finally coming to Boise. Since then, a few great shops have opened up (you can expect a guide to Boise coffee from me in about two months), and as of less than a year ago, Neckar is now in its own brick-and-mortar shop.

Neckar Coffee is located just a couple blocks from where they used to set up shop at the farmer’s market. The space has an elegant, minimalist + retro feel. There is a lot of white: walls, counter, tables, but the warm wood floors and rusty red velvet bench all along the right side of the shop ensure that it feels warm and welcoming. Retro light fixtures over the bar and the minimalist decor adds to the overall vibe, with the espresso machine and pour over bar holding a prominent spot in the decor.

When we went in, they had a Kenyan coffee for all drinks: espresso-based and pour over. I ordered a macchiato. It was good, but I think it would have been a lot better with oat milk; regular milk mutes some of the unique flavors of a Kenyan coffee, in my opinion. Remington ordered an espresso and a pour over, both of which were very tasty. The espresso had a bright hibiscus acidity, a cinnamon spiciness, and a surprisingly creamy body. My mom ordered an oat milk cappuccino, which confirmed my suspicion that the espresso would be really good with oat milk: it was excellent. Everly and Jude split a steamer, as usual, and also ordered an almond croissant to split. The croissant was absolutely amazing; I highly recommend a pastry if you end up going to Neckar. All of the drinks came in super unique ceramics.

Since my parents joined us at the coffee shop, Everly and Jude were quite occupied by my dad dragging them across the floor with his crutch. They were a bit more noisy than I would usually be comfortable with, but no one seemed bothered, and we didn’t stay for an extended time. As far as family-friendliness goes, I can’t give it a rating, as I forgot to check the bathroom for a changing table. There are no child-specific amenities, but if you are okay with being very hands-on with your children, there is no reason not to bring them. The shop is spacious and at least when we went there, finding a table was easy. The shop was on the quieter side, but not overly so.

As far as tech goes, Neckar is unique in that it is the first shop I have encountered with a full manual espresso machine: a Bosco Sorrento Lever machine. As owner of a manual espresso machine, I was impressed and intrigued. The grinders were all by Mahlkonig, and the pour overs were done on ceramic Hario V60s. I didn’t ask to confirm, but it looked like they were using Acacia Pearl scales for pour overs.

If you are in Boise for any reason, Neckar Coffee is an excellent choice for coffee. It would be especially well suited for working, meeting a friend, or just grabbing a cup to go. If you stop by, let me know what you think!



Bend, OR

This past weekend, Remington, the children, and I drove over to Bend, OR for the weekend. Sledding at Mt. Bachelor was our primary goal, but we also got in a hike at Smith Rock and enjoyed plenty of good food and coffee. We go to Thump Coffee and Crowsfeet Commons nearly every time we go to Bend. This time was no exception, but we also managed to go to a third coffee shop that I don’t think we had tried before. PALATE is located near the Old Mill District, conveniently on the way to Mt. Bachelor, but well before you get out of town.

PALATE is located in a classic house, as are many of the businesses in that area. The interior is defined by dark wood, plants, and windows along the front. I will admit, the interior felt a bit crowded. It was a Saturday morning and plenty of people were there hanging out, or grabbing coffee to go. The line weaved through tables towards the front door and it was a little challenging to navigate with children without them bumping into the people sitting at tables to either side of the line. Of course, people were friendly and generally unconcerned about being bumped into or being observed by a curious four year old.

They serve Coava Coffee. As you would find at a Coava shop, PALATE offers two different single origin espresso options for all espresso-based drinks. They had several milk alternative options, all by Pacific. When we came, the offerings were a Kenyan and a Colombian. Rem got the Kenyan as straight espresso and I got the Colombian in a macchiato. We also ordered a steamer and a cookie for Everly and Jude. We found seats at the bar along the front window and the kids started in on the cookie while we waited for the rest of our drinks.

The espresso came out in an adorable green demitasse with the usual spoon and sparkling water. It was good, although it tasted a little unevenly extracted. The macchiato was delightful. I ordered it breve and the combination of a Colombian espresso with a touch of half and half is almost always a winner. I really enjoyed it. Everly and Jude really enjoyed the cookie and steamer.

Everly kept herself occupied at the coffee shop tearing up a napkin and making a collage with the pieces. Jude was content to eat his cookie and drink his steamer. We ended up needing to change Alistair’s diaper while we were there. It’s usually hit or miss with changing a baby’s diaper at a coffee shop, “Will they have a changing table? Am I going to have to put a blanket down on the floor to change him?” Much to my relief, they did have a table that functioned well as a changing table for a baby. For it’s level of family-friendliness, I would give PALATE a 6 out of 10: if you are already comfortable with taking your children into coffee shops and don’t mind having to be very hands on, it’s a great option for getting some coffee. They don’t have any books or toys for children, a children’s corner, or complimentary kid’s drinks, but it’s not library-quiet, and there was no “adults only” vibe. Having our children there didn’t seem awkward or unwelcome. Plus, the changing table makes it a great stop on your way to Mt. Bachelor even if you’re just running in to grab some coffee and change a diaper before hitting the slopes.

Overall, I would recommend PALATE as a great stop on your way to Mt. Bachelor, or just as a place to get coffee in Bend, with or without your family. The vibe felt very “Bend”: casual, outdoors oriented, unpretentious, welcoming. If you give it a try, let me know! I’d love to know what you thought.

Push X Pull

Push X Pull

821 SE Stark St

Portland, OR 97214

I’m back! I am so excited to be sharing a coffee shop adventure again, after a too-long hiatus. We both moved and had a baby since my last post, but we are still in the Portland metro area and also still going to coffee shops as a family. Yes, even with three children ages 4 and under. Our most recent trip was to Push X Pull in Portland. They opened last year and we have been in a few times so far.

The first impression of Push X Pull is formed by wood, metal (mostly painted blue), light yellow walls, and a polished concrete floor which gives a unique, industrial/modern feel. Natural light streams in from the large windows. Behind the counter, mugs, a couple plants, and random coffee gear, as well as old fashioned speakers with Pendleton-esque covers ensure that the vibe isn’t too pretentious. Coffee roasting takes place on-site in a roaster located in the far right corner of the shop. Seating includes a bar along a portion of the windowed perimeter of the shop, a large table in the center, a couple smaller tables just to the left of the door, a couple seats at the counter near the espresso machine, and a leather couch with coffee table in one corner. In nice weather, there are also a few small tables outside on the sidewalk.

Push X Pull regularly has two different single-origin espresso options, and multiple options for pour-over. Of course, they have the usual milk drinks as well. They carry Oatly milk, which is one of my favorite milk-alternative options. The origins available for espresso when we went were an Ethiopia Guji, natural process, and a natural process Nicaragua. It’s hard to pass up a good natural process espresso, so we ordered one of each and got a steamer for the kids.

The Nicaragua was amazing. It was full and flavorful with a thick, creamy mouthfeel. It took me back to one of the first really good shots of espresso I had in Portland, so I didn’t try to analyze, I just enjoyed it. We could tell that the Ethiopia Guji was going to be great from the first smell; the floral aroma was incredible. Following that up with a delicate acidity and satsuma sweetness, with a red fruit juiciness, it was the epitome of Ethiopian coffee. We were both blown away by the amazing-ness. Everly and Jude enjoyed their steamer as well as a couple tastes of espresso.

Push X Pull is an excellent choice for coffee in Portland, and a worthy addition to the collection of shops already in existence. It would be a fine place to work or study or catch up with friends or a good book. Also, there is a leather couch, which in my husband’s book, automatically makes a shop worth frequenting.

Have you been to Push X Pull? Where have you been to coffee this week?


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?