Is the great coffee experience more than quality, polished uniforms, and long lines? We think the folks at Portola Coffee Lab in Costa Mesa, CA may be on the right track, as per this feature in The Orange Country Register.

The article itself is a big noisy traffic jam of mainstream media coffee cliches – from the title (“Coffee perk-fection”) to the author’s journalistic wonderment towards “nouveau” brewing methods like the siphon pot – but let’s not let that intrude on the good work being done by the folks at Portola. After a few years of success out there in Costa Mesa (and an active role at United States Barista Championship regional and national events), Portola founder Jeff Duggan and his consigliere Truman Severson are prepping to launch their second space.

Called “Theorem”, Duggan and Severson have set out to create a reservation-only cafe experience focused on showmanship, theater, signature coffee “cocktails”, and carefully curated coffee “flights”. Here’s more:

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Taking the craft coffee craze up a notch, Duggan plans to launch a “slow bar” called Theorem later this month. The six-seat slow service coffee bar, adjacent to Portola, will sell creative cocktails where coffee is the main component.

Set up like an intimate wine bar, Theorem will serve coffee flights with varying levels of caffeine and will pair foods with signature drinks.

Don’t come here if you want a quick fix. The by-reservation-only bar is intended for connoisseurs and novices who want to relax and experience coffee in a new way. “There are three other concepts like this that I know of in the country,” Duggan said.

Truman Severson, coffee mixologist for Portola, will head the Theorem bar.

His signature drink? A Barrel-Aged Kyoto Old Fashioned.


During a recent demonstration, Severson blended basic ingredients from apothecary-style medicine bottles: barrel aged coffee (instead of whiskey), muscavado simple syrup and coffee bitters. The finishing touch is a “flamed” orange and lemon zest. Drink prices have not been set, but Duggan expects customers to spend $10 to $15 during a 30-minute seating.

Dry ice! Fire! Elaborate sig drinks! Reservations required! Ice cream! Yes, yes, and yes! Learn more about Portola Coffee Lab here, and read the full Orange County Register article here.

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