Welcome to Sprudge Maps Spotlight, a brand new series here on your favorite coffee news and culture website whereby we take a deeper look at cafes and roasteries around the globe using Sprudge Maps as our guide!
This week we’re visiting Cathedral Coffee in Portland, Oregon, founded in the city’s northernmost St. John’s neighborhood. This part of Portland has its own feel and identity, and Cathedral has become an integral part of that, well-loved for its coffee service as well as one of the best in-house baking programs in the city. To learn more we spoke with the team at Cathedral.
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Introduce yourself to our readers—tell us about your cafe!
Cathedral is a hospitality company, with two retail locations in the Portland area, that is focused around creating memorable experiences through specialty coffee, tea, and house-made baked goods. Our hope is to be a friendly and inspiring space where people can share moments of meaningful connection, right in the midst of their everyday life. Our flagship location is right in the middle of St. John’s in North Portland, and was put together by a small group of friends, designers, woodworkers, artists, students, parents, musicians… just a bunch of fellow humans who just love quality food and drink, and want to share that with our neighborhood. We want to push past the boundaries of not only what coffee can taste like, but what a coffeeshop can feel like, what a food program can be like, and what it means to be a presence of hope and light in our community.
What equipment do you use in your shop?
When it comes to equipment, our setup is really simple. A FETCO batch brewer, and a La Marzocco custom-painted Linea 2EE, right alongside espresso grinders from Mazzer, and an EK43 from Mahlkönig. While our space doesn’t feature crazy machines with all the bells and whistles, we strive for excellence in everything we do and pay attention to what matters and will show up in the cup, whether that’s the quality of the green coffee we are using and how we’re brewing it, or the regular upkeep and maintenance we perform on our grinders and machines. Every coffee is treated as unique and special, and is continually taste-tested and measured by our baristas day-in and day-out, to make sure we are honoring the craft of the producers we are serving.
Which roaster or roasters do you serve?
We are a wholesale partner with Proud Mary USA, over on Alberta St in NE Portland. While originally from Melbourne, Nolan and Shari [Hirte] and their crew at PMC are an amazing team that has set up shop here in our city, and we are thrilled to be working with them when it comes to coffee. Their dedication to transparency, quality, and showcasing how special coffee can really be, is a perfect fit for our space, and we work very closely with them in creating the coffee experience at Cathedral.
What is the neighborhood like where you’re located? What’s some other cool stuff nearby?
We’re located on Willamette Blvd, in the St. John’s neighborhood of North Portland. Sort of midway between the University of Portland and downtown St. Johns, and the street we’re on is one of the main cycling paths through our section of PDX! St. John’s is home to a variety of amazing small businesses and colorful neighborhoods, including some really amazing coffee companies and restaurants. Occidental Brewing, HomeGrown Smoker, Two Stroke Coffee Co., and many more! We’re named after Cathedral Park, which is a short walk down the street from us, and is a huge, green, outdoor space underneath the St. John’s bridge… definitely a must see if visiting the area!
Did you close during a mandated Coronavirus shut-down, and if so, for how long?
We did close for about a month in April, in response to a state-wide “stay at home” order from our governor. However, at the beginning of May, we reopened our doors as a re-imagined take-away only space, and continue to operate that way for the time being. We are also operating a spacious outdoor patio next to the building for people to use while they enjoy our goods!
How has Coronavirus impacted daily work at your cafe?
Our goal during this pandemic is to provide an atmosphere where people feel a semblance of stability, normal, and calm, while balancing a safe, clean, and healthy dynamic. We’ve rearranged our space, are keeping our garage doors open for the breeze, and are serving everything to-go in a contactless format. We are still considering whether doing online-ordering is the right fit for us… but for the time being we are slinging spros and pastries in a simple in-person scenario. Masks are required to enter our space!
What’s something cool or unique about your cafe you want folks to know?
The coolest and most interesting thing about us (in my opinion :) has always been the people behind our bar, in our kitchen, and behind our ingredients. For us that’s always the focus, which then translates into wanting to host our guests in a way that makes them individually feel seen and known. However, something else we take pride in is that we make all of our food in-house! Our kitchen/bake team is exceptionally talented and they bake everything from scratch each day, using quality organic and raw materials. In other words, it’ll pretty much always smell amazing when you walk in!
Is there a community organization or charity you’d like to shout-out as part of this feature?
Our walls are home to a rotating roster of local artists who hang small month-long galleries of their work for sale! And with every sale of art, we take a percentage that is then donated to a local non-profit or community organization of our choosing. So for the next two months, we are partnering with Curtis Jones, a student at nearby U of P, and a talented landscape painter, to provide funding for Refugee Care Collective PDX, which is an amazing team of people doing life-changing work with international refugees right here in our city. For every painting Curtis sells, we are donating 20% of the proceeds straight to RCC, through the end of September.
All photos courtesy of Cathedral Coffee, used with permission