Portland celebrated the soft opening of Barista’s fourth location on Friday morning with a light snowfall. Despite the bitter cold and slippery sidewalks, foot traffic at the new shop was steady. From eager coffee enthusiasts to curious neighborhood passersby, a stream of customers visited throughout the morning to enjoy some coffee and congratulate owner Billy Wilson on his new shop. Located at 823 NW 23rd Avenue in the Alphabet District, Barista 4 is among a handful of established, independent shops to open on the busy commercial street in the last year or so—neighbors include nationally known brands like Salt & Straw, Bamboo Sushi and The Meadow.
The café is a refreshing addition to the busy commercial street, which still dotted with progressive indies and corporate chain-stores alike, including Starbucks, Brooklyn Industries, and Williams-Sonoma. Although it’s not yet quite finished, the spacious new location has come together beautifully. On the far wall is a mural painted by barista and artist Cameron Stewart. Inspired by William Morris’s jasmine wallpaper, the impressive floor-to-ceiling work will feature an intricate weaving of vines, leaves and jasmine flowers, which rather resemble coffee flowers.
Seating consists of three roomy diner-style booths with tufted leather seats, a row of several two-person tables with black wooden chairs and bar seating along the window facing the street. The extravagant details—the busy mural, the large gold-framed mirrors, the ornate table bases—are balanced out by a clean La Marzocco Linea espresso machine. Sleekly stamped zinc abounds both for on the bar counter and the cafe’s tables.
Simple black Schoolhouse Electric chandeliers illuminate the bar, and black pendant lamps hang low throughout the rest of the space. “We’ll also be getting lots of plants in soon,” Mr. Wilson told me. “We want it to feel comfortable and homey, like you’re in someone’s house.”
In addition to coffees from Counter Culture Coffee and MadCap Coffee Company, the opening menu features the a well-regarded Portland troika: Heart Roasters, Coava, and Stumptown. Billy Wilson has abandoned the French press at his new shop in preference for a Fetco brewer: “It’s funny to see how the brew methods always come full circle. Ten years ago everyone was all about the French press—it was everywhere. Then it was the whole manual pour-over thing, and the vac pot,” says Billy, who believes the Fetco “makes really good coffee” while freeing up the barista to do other things.
Barista is also Roman Candle Bakery’s first wholesale account outside of the Stumptown empire—all four shops will make the switch from Nuvrei beginning today, the 7th of December. An assortment of other food options will be made in-house from a tiny kitchen in the back. “We’ll have some really good sandwiches using Olympic Provisions meats, maybe some hot cereals, some pies,” Billy told me. “We’ll also have several beers and one cider, and $5 house wines, red and white.” Cava and by-the-bottle wine options will also be added to the menu.
Barista 4 officially opens next Wednesday, December 11. Hours will be 6am to 8pm on weekdays and 7am to at least 8pm on weekends. The shop’s soft open lasts all weekend. Stay tuned for updates on Twitter (@BaristaPDX).