Chilling at the Cloud Seven Café

It was a cold, rainy day when I visited the Cloud Seven Café. Cloud Seven is located at the Northeast corner of Jamison Square, in the same space where Sip ‘n Kranz used to be. I had hoped to find a warm spot to cozy up to an espresso (or two), but it didn’t quite work out that way. I was disappointed when I walked in and found the café to be quite cold. In fact, it didn’t seem that much warmer than outside. I could feel a very cool breeze blowing from the café ventilation system. I wasn’t the only one who thought it was cold inside either. Behind the bar I could see one of the baristas shivering. After a while, I was shivering too.

Just below cloud nine

Cloud Seven lacks the quirky, dirty feel that many Portland cafés have. It tries to be more upscale and it makes it. The space itself is much more open than it used to be, a big improvement over the last time I was in the building. Hanging lights reminded me of an underwater-themed prom or homecoming dance (I don’t know why—maybe we had something like that in Dayton all those years ago). When I sat down, indie folk music was playing over the PA. The café also has occasional live music too: Sarah Billings will be giving a free concert at the Cloud Seven on December 21st at 7pm.

Lots of space

The café had a variety of coffees available from Intelligentsia. There were three different coffees you could get at the pour-over bar and two different espressos. The first espresso I tried was the El Salvador Pacamara. The barista said it was smoky and savory with a pretty good bite to it. I didn’t really get the smoky flavor when I tried it, but it was definitely savory. It was biting, almost sour, kind of like when you bite into a green (unripe) plum or apple. The shot grabbed a hold of the back of my throat, and didn’t let go until I put some sugar in it.

The bar

The second espresso I had was Black Cat. It was solid, though I have to say that the Black Cat shots I had at the Red E were a little better. Maybe the weather and the temperature were messing with my perceptions.

Overall, I am somewhere between neutral and positive when it comes to a recommendation. On the one hand, the coffee was good and the baristas seemed knowledgeable about the coffee. The Pacamara was interesting, and the Black Cat is one of the best espressos around. For this, I give the café a good evaluation.

On the other hand, it was cold inside and it didn’t seem like Cloud Seven had quite yet settled into its space. I just didn’t get that welcoming vibe from being there. It was like when you get a new couch or a new pair of shoes. They look nice, but they need to be used for a while before they really feel good. With the passage of time, I expect the Cloud Seven to settle into its space and become a better place to hang out. Maybe in the summer when it’s a little warmer outside.

Address: 901 NW 10th Ave, Portland, Oregon 97209 (map)
Phone: 503.336.1335
Hours: Monday-Friday 7am-7pm
            Saturday-Sunday 8am-7pm
Coffee: Intelligentsia
Free Wi-Fi? Yes
Recommend it? Neutral-positive