The summer isn't officially over yet. The winds are picking up, the nights are cooler, but we officially have until September 22nd before this series wraps.
Over the last few months, a new shop has emerged in Sprudge's home base. Case Study Coffee opened the doors to its third location in Portland, Oregon. Situated in the bustling Albert Arts district in the city's northeast quadrant, it joins the likes of Extracto, Caffe Vita, and Billy Wilson's BARISTA.
Case Study's new location has been hailed as one of the prettiest cafes in Portland. Let's take a look!
As told to Sprudge by Emily McIntyre.
Can you tell us a bit about your new space?
Our new space at 1422 NE Alberta reflects who we are, just like our other two locations. Co-owners Wes and Chris designed the space and, along with our team of baristas, worked to bring it into being. All the walnut cabinetry was Wes’s, Chris laid all the tile (and there was a lot of it), and we hung the 12-foot custom caffeine molecule chandelier by ourselves.
Case Study Coffee was named after the mid-century architectural movement from LA, and you can see it reflected in the original iconic Rowland 40/4 chairs, which we sanded down and re-painted, in the European-style cabinetry, and in the George Nelson bubble lamps. Heath Ceramics tile laid by Chris gives her the chance to relive her childhood in the Bay Area, where her architect father worked with Edith Heath Ceramics in the 50’s and 60’s. Other details—such as the custom laser etching on our black Synesso Hydra drawn by our new designer, Coco Chin, and the crazy floor Wes and Chris laid themselves, to mimic classic Terrazzo—are more quirky, reflecting the diverse team that makes up Case Study Coffee.
For 7 years now we’ve served coffee to Portland, first as espresso caterers, then in the outskirts and, with our second location, downtown. Now our third space will welcome a completely different group of customers. We share a courtyard with extremely popular restaurant Tin Shed and are already embracing the shifting nature of foot traffic in the Alberta Arts District. We look forward to meeting new regulars and serving lots of new faces.
What's your approach to coffee?
Here at Case Study Coffee, we are pretty simple. Christine, our roaster from the beginning, works to balance sweetness and acidity with coffees, roasting to highlight the coffee itself and not a roast style. As for sourcing, we always look for relationships with farmers who share our philosophy, whether directly at origin or through reputable coffee importers.
The staff at Case Study has a lot of say in the coffees we choose to feature—they’re the ones serving it to customers, after all! We like to offer dueling coffees—same coffee, different processes, or same region, different farmers. We shoot for clarity and transparency in taste along with a satisfying sweetness and mouthfeel in extraction.
One aspect of our philosophy in coffee is that we have offered quality, espresso-compatible, house-made syrups and sauces since the beginning. June Kang, one of our lead baristas, makes them every week fresh, usually with just two or three ingredients. We feel that our focus on providing quality flavored drinks to the customers who want them has set us aside from the beginning in addition to our focus on coffee itself.
Lastly, we have a strong connection between our staff members and our customers. Many customers come to internal Case Study events, and we all feel a real sense of ownership over Case Study in all its aspects. In this new buildout we’ve been so encouraged by the tide of support and input by customers and baristas from beginning to end.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
– Synesso Hydra, with custom paint job and laser-etching.
– Mazzer Kony E espresso grinders
– Mahlkonig EK 43
– Marco water boiler
– Going to have a brew bar with its own hot water tap
– Focusing on Kalita Waves for our pour overs
– Yama Cold Brew Drip Tower
– 1948 Probat L-5
What's your hopeful target opening month?
We are now open! Hosting the last Pacific Northwest TNT with Espresso Parts was our first event in the new space, and it made us happy to see the place full to the rafters with baristas and customers from all over the Northwest. Our official opening date was Tuesday, September 2nd. We’ll have a big party soon to celebrate, and everyone is invited.
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you'd like to mention?
Actually, we did almost all the work—Co-owner Wes Russell designed everything, with lots of input from Christine. Both owners are obsessed with architecture and design. We’d like to recognize each of our staff members, including Eli Johnston, for all their hard work in making our vision a shared reality.
We do want to shout out to our realty company, Living Room Realty, who were once housed in this space and now reside across the street—they’ve been great. Also, we share a courtyard with outstanding Portland restaurant Tin Shed, and the entire staff there have been wonderful partners, checking in on us during the buildout to make sure we weren’t going crazy among all our dust and tools!
Photos courtesy Case Study Coffee.