A PDX Coffee Adventure-Part 2

Part 1 | Part 3

Sam and I left Public Domain and headed south for Pioneer Square. As we reached the square, a newsman from Channel 8 asked if we wanted to be on the news. I hesitated for a second and then thought sure, why not? It never hurts to get some practice time in front of the camera. The station was looking for “on the street” responses to President Obama’s compromise on the tax cuts. I shared my opinions and we moved on. It had already been a more interesting day than I had planned.

We walked through downtown over to the riverfront area, crossing the Hawthorne Bridge and dropping down to Water Avenue (It would have been quicker to take the Morrison Bridge, but I only realized this after we reached the café). We arrived just as the rain started to fall. Inside, the barista warmly greeted us, and he described his espressos with ease. We ordered, and while we waited, I glanced around for the roaster that was supposed to be in the café. It was behind the wall just behind the front counter, but it was not in use at the time.

Attention: fresh-roasted coffee nearby

Sam and I sat down by the window and looked around. I took a couple of pictures and when I did, Matt Milletto, the owner, came over to talk to us. He was just making sure we weren’t up to anything sinister (I don’t blame him—we probably looked suspicious). Sam introduced himself as a co-worker to someone who Matt knew. Matt quickly recognized the name and offered us a tour if we could wait a couple minutes. Sure, we replied.

When Matt finished what he was working on, he led us to the back room behind the café, to a classroom filled with commercial espresso machines. The room was the center of operations for the American Barista and Coffee School. There were around ten commercial espresso machines sitting on the counters that circled the room plus a selection of grinders, brewers and syrups. If you wanted some barista training, this would definitely be a great spot to go. You could learn about a lot of the different technologies available at one time.

A room full of coffee gear

Matt explained some of the school’s programs to us. The school offers a five-day intensive course that is geared towards people who are planning to run their own cafés. This includes business training as well as barista training. The course costs about $2,500, but in the context of what it costs to set up a café, this is not a huge expense, especially for those without much coffee experience or training.

In addition to the five-day course, ABC offers a two-day “train the trainer” course that is mostly for brushing up on your barista skills and learning to share your knowledge with your employees. For regular people who want to learn more about coffee, the school also has a one-day class that focuses on brewing techniques in the morning and barista skills in the afternoon.

Sam and Matt talk shop

My luck for the day had compounded. We had been lucky to make it to Water Avenue at just the right time. Otherwise we would have not run into Matt and received the tour that Sam’s connection got us. My only regret was that they weren’t roasting coffee while we were there. Drinking coffee at a café where roasting greatly enhances the coffee experience. It smells sooo good.