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!

Either/Or

Either/Or
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!