On a recent trip to Mount Tabor, I drove by the intersection of SE 60th and Division, where new signs in the window of the corner café caught my eye. Having previously visited and written about Gigibar (the café that used to be there), I decided to go back and learn the story behind the new café, the Rain or Shine Coffee House. When I got there, the February March April May June showers had returned and it was pouring outside.
The first thing I noticed as I walked into the café was the brightness of the space. New hanging globe lamps added to the café’s light, airy feel. Fresh-cut flowers sat on several tables, adding life to the room. Watercolor paintings of flora, fauna and white-washed cities hung on the wall, making me wish I was somewhere on the Mediterranean. Then again, maybe that was just the weather.
The new owners, Molly Boyl and Claire Teasdale, went to school together at the University of Oregon. Claire had previously worked in a coffee shop in Eugene, and although Molly did not have much experience with coffee, she said she has enjoyed learning about it. When I was there, the Rain or Shine had only been open for ten days, so they were still getting their routine down.
The Rain or Shine serves coffee from Portland Roasting Coffee. Both Molly and Claire grew up in Portland, so their first instinct was to buy coffee from Stumptown. However, they decided that since there were so many cafés serving Stumptown in the area (including the roaster’s original café, a few blocks down the street), it might be a good idea to go with something different.
After meeting with several different coffee companies, they decided to go with Portland Roasting Coffee, for several reasons. First, they were looking for a local roaster. Second, they wanted to work with a company that was large enough that it could help train them and provide support for their operations. Finally, they really liked Portland Roasting’s commitment to buying directly from farmers, as well as with the roaster’s work on development projects in coffee-growing countries.
The first espresso I ordered was pretty good. It had ribbons of cocoa-colored foam swirled into the thick golden crema that covered the coffee beneath. The taste was balanced and a little bit earthy, with hints of dark chocolate. My second espresso of the day had a little less chocolate flavor, with a touch more bitterness in it than the first one. It was also very drying on the tongue. It was not quite as good as the first one, but it was drinkable.
For customers who looking for something a little more substantial than just a cup of coffee. you can also choose from several different options for snacks. Using local ingredients, Claire and Molly make all of the pastries (except for the bagels) on-site. Most days, they get to the café by 4:30am to make the muffins, scones and cookies. Molly told me they have plans for more food offerings in the future.
As I left the café, the sun was trying hard to break through the clouds. I could even see a few bits of blue sky. It was a fitting end to my trip—I had both rain and shine when I went to the Rain or Shine. If you are in the Mount Tabor neighborhood, you should stop in and check out the new Rain or Shine Coffee House. You will find a couple of new owners who are full of enthusiasm and optimism, in spite of this crazy weather we’ve been having.
Address: 5941 SE Division St, Portland, OR 97206 (map)
Hours: Monday-Friday 6am-4pm
Coffee: Portland Roasting
Free Wi-Fi? Yes (ask for password)
Recommend it? As an escape from the rain (or shine)