Early last week, I spent some time at Case Study’s new café, at Southwest 10th and Yamhill, across the street from the Central Library. My impression? As they say, “the rich get richer,” and Portlanders have yet another good café where residents can meet to enjoy quality coffee, right in the heart of downtown.
If you were to walk by the shop and just glance inside, you might think the new shop is a place to go for an after-work pint or two. The shop doesn’t sell anything stronger than espresso, but it has the ambience of an upscale tavern. This was intentional, according to Christine Herman-Russell, Case Study’s owner.
“The seating is a little more spread out in here,” she said. “It gives the café more of a public house feel and seems to encourage more conversation.”
In the center of the café, a long, smooth copper bar invites you to sit for a drink. Vintage light fixtures hang low from the high ceilings, their swooping filaments enveloping the café in a warm, amber light. With large, floor-to-ceiling windows, the mood of the café varies with the weather, changing from bright and lively to dim and reserved as clouds pass by overhead. In the northeast corner of the shop, a vintage Probat roaster sits patiently, waiting to be fired up. Echoing the original café, one of the café’s most prominent features is the ‘exploding spider’ light fixture hovering over the espresso machine. Its copper color complements the coffee bar.
“This one is similar to the other Sputnik [what the baristas call the original fixture], but it’s a little more elegant,” said Ricky Sutton, the head of Case Study’s coffee program.
Unlike the Northeast Sandy shop, which still sells some Stumptown coffees, the downtown shop will serve exclusively Case Study coffee. Brewed coffee will be made with a Fetco brewer (once it is dialed in, according to Sutton) instead of a French press.
Open little more than a week, everything inside the café feels new—you can still smell a hint of sawdust and varnish mixed in with the coffee aroma. The shop’s large windows provide a unique vantage point from which you can observe Portland’s downtown pulse. From my table, I watched as torrential downpours sent Portlanders scurrying for cover, rushing to avoid a mid-day soaking. When the sun came out, people strolled more leisurely, enjoying autumn in the city.
The new café’s grand opening is slated for December 3rd. Until then, as Case Study employees get used to the new space and work out the kinks, the shop will be open from 7am-5pm every day. After the grand opening, the plan is to keep the shop open until 10pm, for the after-dinner coffee and dessert crowd.
Case Study’s second shop is easily accessible without a car, sitting at the crossroads for both the street car and the MAX lines. If you can avoid the temptation to sit and watch Portlanders passing by the large windows, it would also be a good shop to sit and work.
With yet another quality shop to visit, is it fair to say that Portland has officially entered a ‘golden age’ of great coffee? I dare say so.
Address: 802 SW 10th Ave (map)
Hours: Sunday-Saturday 7am-5pm
Coffee: Case Study
Recommendations? Grab a cup and sit at the window to watch Portland pass by