High-profile combinations of coffee and other retail experiences are all the rage these days, with everyone from Toms to Urban Outfitters to Club Monaco to Acne getting in on the game. Though reaching a fever pitch in 2014, this trend is by no means new–Prufrock was “popping up” in the Present boutique in London in 2010–nor is it a trend limited to retail giants or established coffee businesses. Here in Portland, Oregon, a number of boutiques have taken a decidedly (and perhaps expectedly) more informal and DIY approach, offering coffee in various forms as a way to welcome their guests and spark conversation.
Here are three of my favorite places around Portland to shop, sip coffee, and get to know the creative people behind the city’s small businesses.
Will Leather Goods
1022 W. Burnside St.
This family-owned leather goods company was founded in Eugene more than thirty years ago, and it opened its first Portland store last year inside the city’s new Union Way shopping arcade. The shop is stocked with quality leather goods of all sorts, from bags, wallets, and aprons to travel kits and cutting boards. Visitors are offered espresso, lattes, or americanos prepared on an espresso machine stationed in one corner of the shop. “When people come into a Will store, we want them to feel as if they are entering our home,” said Tim Chan, the company’s community manager. “Apart from the lush leather sofa and chairs that create a living room atmosphere, we offer our customers something to drink when they walk through our doors.”
Coffee: Public Domain. “We’re proud of our Oregonian roots and wanted to work with a local coffee roaster. They are dedicated to the art and the craft of their coffee products, just as we are to our bags, belts, and other leather goods.”
Favorite place to get coffee outside of work: “Public Domain. Their service is fantastic and their coffee is amazing, and I also like the way their bar is set up so that the customer can watch the process of their barista crafting each shot.”
819 N. Russell St.
Owned by Arizona natives Maya Rose and Dino Matt, this inner NoPo neighborhood shop is full of vintage, rare and one-of-a-kind objects that reflect the couple’s love for Native American and Southwestern art. “We want people to feel comfortable in our shop and able to ask questions,” said Rose. “We think sharing coffee offers people an opportunity to stop, relax, and take in their surroundings.” Indeed, all of my visits to Lowell have been filled with good conversation and a leisurely cup enjoyed in a vintage Heath Ceramics mug, and I never leave without a new lovely knick-knack of some kind.
Coffee: Spielman’s Coffee Roasters and Bagels on Division Street, home of what many Portlanders consider to be the best bagels in the city. “Spielman’s is a small father-and-son operation run by our friend Raf and his dad Rick,” Maya Rose told me. “Their process is very hands-on for every aspect of their café, much like ours is for our shop.” Referring to the humorous notes scribbled in Sharpie on each bag of coffee they receive, Rose says, “they have a great sense of humor.” This week it was “RAT SLUDGE,” and last week it was “BURNT, MISTAKE COFFEE (FOR DOGS).” Contrary to the names, the coffee tastes quite good.
Equipment: Technivorm Moccamaster, Krups blade grinder. The couple obtained the Moccamaster one day when Mark Hellweg, the owner of local coffee equipment company Clive Coffee walked in to purchase a rug—it happened to cost about the same as a Moccamaster, so they traded. “We’re planning to trade in our blade grinder for a burr grinder. Anyone who sells burrs grinders need a new rug?”
Favorite place to get coffee outside of work: “Courier Coffee. They play great music, their pastries are baked in small batches every morning and [owner] Joel's attention to detail is impeccable, right down to the ice cubes they use for cold brew. We are also looking forward to someday visiting Paddler’s Coffee in Tokyo, owned by our friend Daisuke.”
Table of Contents
33 NW 4th Ave.
Table of Contents is a high-end clothing and design shop in Chinatown, just north of West Burnside. (Full disclosure: When I’m not writing for Sprudge.com and Kinfolk, you’ll find me working here!) Owned by couple Joseph Magliaro and Shu Hung, TOC is filled with beautiful garments from Japanese and Scandinavian designers, vintage design books and publications and a small collection fine objects and furniture, many of which are designed in-house by TOC Studio.
The shop frequently sets up a pop-up brew bar at the front of the store. “I don’t like to think of the shop as simply a transactional space,” said Magliaro. “I’ve always felt that making and drinking coffee is such a social activity, so it’s something we like to share with friends and customers who come into the shop. And everyone who works here tends to drink a fair amount of coffee, so it made sense to have some on hand.” Coffee for here is served in Max Lamb or Another Country ceramic mugs, or in white paper cups, cheekily stamped with the shop’s logo.
Favorite place to get coffee outside of work: “Of course the quality of the coffee is super important, but the total experience of a coffee shop–layout, furnishings, crowd, music, aroma, food, staff, cleanliness– is what brings me back. Heart on East Burnside is the place in town that I most like to return to. Prufrock in London is another café that, for me, delivers a wonderful total experience: great coffee, good food, knowledgeable staff and an on-site coffee classroom set off a bustling market street in central London.”