After checking out the Sterling kiosk on Glisan, I decided to head toward downtown to find a place to sit and write. I didn’t make it very far. A few blocks down Glisan, I came across World Cup Coffee and Tea. I had been planning to try World Cup coffee, but I thought I would go to their café in Powell’s Books. However, since the opportunity presented itself, I decided to stop and check this one out. It turns out that the store on Glisan is World Cup’s headquarters and main café. The company has its offices and its roasting operation there.
While waiting in line, I read some of the company’s literature and I thought I was at another café for coffee enthusiasts. Having visited many similar places, I expected the people in the café to be knowledgeable about the coffee. I walked up to the counter and asked the barista what their espresso was like. She paused for a second.
“It’s really strong. Have you had espresso before?”
“Um. . .” The question hung in the air for just a moment, and I couldn’t help but smile. “Yeah, I drink quite a bit of espresso,” I told her. “I know what it is, but I wanted to know what your espresso is like. You know, how does it taste, for example?”
She wasn’t sure what to say and I felt a little bad for putting her on the spot. At the same time, though, I was pretty surprised that she didn’t know a little more about the coffee because it was, after all, the headquarters of a Portland coffee company. I told her not to worry about it and that I wouldn’t have asked that question before I started checking out all the coffee shops in Portland.
She was probably relieved to stop talking to me when she went to make the espresso. When it was ready, I took it over to the high table along the front window, sat down and looked around. The café had high ceilings and seemed dark, but that may have been due to the glare of from the large windows playing tricks on my eyes. The pictures I have do not make it look as dark as I remember it.
The café had a steady stream of customers but it was not overflowing with people. There were several people from the hostel across the street who had come to drink some coffee and take advantage of the café’s free Wi-Fi. A couple people were reading books in the black leather high-backed chairs that sat next to a bookshelf.
As is common in some cafés, the music was being played very loudly over the PA. I tried to listen to my own music using earphones and I had to turn up the volume pretty high to hear it. It was kind of distracting as I tried to write.
And the coffee? It was called Puddle Jumper, which is World Cup’s signature espresso blend. I would describe it this way: toasty and smooth with hints of vanilla and a touch of soft acidity, kind of like vanilla yogurt. It was not the most unique coffee I had that day, but it was definitely drinkable.
I’m still up in the air on whether or not to recommend the café. The coffee was pretty good, and I would be willing to go back sometime to give them another chance. I would have liked a little quieter atmosphere and just a little more enthusiasm (or at least coffee knowledge) from the barista. Overall, I would rate the café as solid but not spectacular.
Address: 1740 NW Glisan, Portland, OR 97209 (map)
Hours: Monday-Friday 6:30am-8pm
Coffee: World Cup
Free Wi-Fi? Yes
Recommend it? Neutral