What's a Coffee Commentary?
Subject: Stumptown Coffee Roasters
Location visited: Portland, OR
[Ace Hotel location]
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]
Every so often, a business will get things just right so that they go from a small shop to boasting a national reputation. Stumptown Coffee Roasters is that business in the coffee world. For about four years now, I've heard nothing but praise regarding Stumptown, located in Portland, OR. I've heard they have amazing espresso and wondrous baristas. I've heard they offer french press coffee out of a huge press. I've even heard of coffeehouses sending their employees there to get training.
Whether or not all this is really true is not all that important (I'm pretty sure it's all truth). The fact that all of this chatter has invaded my skull from people of all walks of life and levels of coffee passion amazes me.
So you can imagine my elation when I finally got to make a stop out to Stumptown a couple weeks ago. A good pal of mine and I were driving down to Oregon from Seattle and were due to stop in Portland that night. Unfortunately, we hit Portland on a Sunday so nothing was open and had we traveled several months earlier, we would have missed Stumptown as well. Fortunately, Stumptown opened their newest location in the Ace Hotel recently where they're open til 11 PM on Sundays.
So fast forward a long hunt to find a decent dinner location (half successful at the Dragonfish, as the entrees were good but sushi a little lacking) and we find our hero at Stumptown Ace at 1030 PM. I had expected the baristas to be closing up (the town seemed dead) but to my surprise they were alive and perky. The exterior is nonchalant, with the name in the window but no real tell-tale markings to make it jump out. The interior was a beautifully sleek operation with a long counter and a relaxing vibe.
They obviously roast their own coffee and take careful measure to brew it well. At this particular operation, they brew all their coffee on 4 (!) specimens of the Clover 1s. I think I had an Ethiopian (or something African, it was late), which sampled a beautiful, full cup of unfiltered java.
The espresso is where I really was wowed. While the barista dialogued with me as she pulled my shot, she felt the shot was poor and so poured it out. She did this twice more, not liking the consistency of her shots. Finally, on the fourth shot she seemed satisfied and handed it to me gingerly, and then gave it to me free of charge because it took so long! I never, in all of my coffee exploits, have ever come across attention to detail (not to mention the amazing results) and customer service like that!
So to summarize simply, if you were to go out of your way to stop at one coffee operation in your lifetime, let it be Stumptown. And if you're looking to move to Portland, can I come visit you?