Ristretto, the Sequel (Prequel)

In Hollywood, when a film does well, studios rush to produce another one in order to take advantage of the buzz from the first one. Lots of times they just throw something together and figure that you liked the first one enough that you will go see the second. The results are often bad flicks. Weekend at Bernie’s II is a good example of a terrible sequel. Dumb and Dumberer comes to mind too (though you could argue that it wasn’t much of a drop-off). The sequels to Blair Witch Project, Rocky, Police Academy and The Matrix all left something to be desired.

Not every sequel is bad, though, and sometimes they turn out to be as good or better than the originals. The Godfather II, Superman 2, Shrek 2 and The Dark Knight all were improvements on their predecessors.

The question I had was, if Ristretto’s William Cafe was a movie, what would the sequel be like? Would it be like The Empire Strikes Back (good) or would it be like Grease 2 (awful)?. To find out,  I visited Ristretto Beaumont the other day, dressed as Darth Vader (just kidding!).

To be technically accurate, the Beaumont store, located at the corner of Northeast 42nd and Fremont, is the original Ristretto location. However, I had already gone to the Ristretto on North Williams Avenue, so the trip to Beaumont played the role of a sequel.

Ristretto part un

Part of the reason I went to Ristretto was that I had purchased a Groupon that entitled me to $15 worth of coffee for $7. I knew that I could get a bag of coffee beans and a double espresso for $15 (note to email marketers: you probably could not target me any better, unless you want to send a half-priced airplane ticket to Brazil my way). The deal was a good excuse to check out the other Ristretto.

For those of you who don’t know what it is, Groupon sends an offer each day to its mailing list. The company offers a deals with a discount of 50% or more, if you buy it the same day. Groupon is the latest hot thing in online marketing and the company seems to be growing quickly. Google reportedly offered $5 billion for the company, but Groupon didn’t take the offer, confident that it would be worth more in the future. We’ll see if they were right.

The day I was there, Ristretto had two espressos on grind. The first was Ristretto’s signature Beaumont blend and the second was a Brazilian single-origin. The barista described them to me.

“The Brazilian is really good as an espresso,” she assured me. “It’s sweet and jammy.”

Even though I prefer blends to single-origins, I still like to experiment and when someone tells me that their Brazilian espresso is ‘sweet and jammy,’ my next words are usually “OK, I’ll try one.”

Now, I don’t know what it is with Ristretto coffee and flavors from my childhood, but when I tasted the espresso, the first sip (mostly crema) tasted just like Smucker’s strawberry jam—the same strawberry jam that my grandmother always used to buy. The barista nailed it when she called it “jammy”. It was very fruity and very sweet, even without adding sugar.

In addition to the espresso, I was pleased with the Brazilian beans I brought home. The beans had been roasted one day before my visit (freshness matters!) and we enjoyed them over the next week using a French press.

Ristretto’s Beaumont store is rather small. It has four two-person tables and one group table where you might be able to squeeze in six people. For those who don’t mind standing, there is a high, narrow table by the front window. The café space is small enough that it was hard to concentrate on writing without overhearing the conversations between the customers and the baristas. I should have put some earphones in if I wanted to get much done.

Inside Ristretto I

Much like my first experience with Ristretto, I came away from my visit glad that I had gone. The café is a little small, but don’t let the size of the café turn you away. Inside there’s some great coffee. Ristretto Beaumont is a great sequel—or prequel, to be more accurate.


Address: 3520 NE 42nd, Portland, OR  97213 (map)
Phone: 503-284-6767
Hours: Monday-Friday 6am-6pm
            Saturday 6:30am-6pm
            Sunday 6:30am-5pm
Coffee: Ristretto
Free Wi-Fi? Yes
Recommend it? Yes
Website: http://www.ristrettoroasters.com