News and Notes from around PDX

[As the café scene is always changing here in Portland, one of my goals is to keep you up to date with what is going on.  Here are a couple quick café notes from today's adventures.]

Bikes and Brew at See See Coffee and Motorcycles

If you’re into motorcycles, you have a new place to drink coffee that is geared toward you. If you’re not into motorcycles, well, you still have a new place to drink coffee. See See Coffee and Motorcycles just opened at the intersection of Northeast Sandy and 17th.


The café’s name comes from the motorcycle theme. The engine displacement of a motorcycle is measured in cubic centimeters (cc – sounds like “see-see”).

The shop is spacious and airy, with a polished concrete floor and an abundance of natural light pouring in through the large skylight and the large front windows. The coffee bar in the center of the room is sheathed with plate steel, giving it a shop-like toughness that you would expect in a motorcycle bar. The bar’s freshly-lacquered hardwood gleams under incandescent lights. Hovering on the western wall, a winding rattlesnake mural warns customers against taking more than their fair share of sugar or napkins.

The café is not just for motorcycle enthusiasts. See See is a full-service coffee bar, offering Stumptown coffee, Townshend’s tea and Crema pastries. Gabriel’s provides the bagels. You can order a pourover or grab a quick cup of French press coffee from the air pot. Each table has an outlet next to it, making See See a suitable location for spending time working on your computer.

The café has only been open for a few weeks, and it still smells new.  The adjoining motorcycle shop is scheduled to open in the next week, so if you want to check out the motorcycle shop too, wait a couple days before heading in.

Address: 1642 NE Sandy (map)
Phone: 503-894-9566
Hours: Monday-Friday 7am-8pm
            Saturday-Sunday 8am-6pm
Coffee: Stumptown
Free Wi-Fi? Yes
Recommendations? Go there on your Harley, if you have one

Trailhead Coffee opens its first cafe

Just a few blocks from See See Motorcycles, Trailhead Coffee Roasters has also opened a small café in the last couple weeks. Sharing a space with the roasting machine and coffee warehouse, the café area is very small. It is geared more toward giving the public an opportunity to sample Trailhead coffees than to give them a place to sit down.

One thing that makes Trailhead unique is the company’s strong association with bicycles. A couple years ago, Trailhead Coffee was featured in The Oregonian for supplying coffee for Cycle Oregon. Owner Charlie Wicker rode his 110-lb. cargo bike more than 300 miles, over a course with 6000 feet of elevation change, rising early each day to supply fellow riders with coffee.  Trailhead also delivers all its coffee to the urban core of Portland via bicycle. The goal is to reduce the environmental footprint of the coffee.

Most of Trailhead’s coffee comes from Café Femenino, a non-profit cooperative of women coffee farmers. The company also supports KIVA microfinance through the sales of some of its coffees. Wicker said he was inspired to support women coffee producers by the book Banker to the Poor, by Muhamad Yunus. The programs help grow the economies of villages in developing countries by providing loans and business help to the women.

In addition to selling fresh-roasted coffees, Wicker also sells some of his older inventory at a discount.   If you don’t mind drinking coffee that is a month old, you can pick up a 12-oz. bag of beans for $5. Fresh coffee is better, but I understand that sometimes price matters more than freshness. 

The shop’s featured brew method is the “dual pourover,” a side-by-side comparison of two different coffees brewed fresh at the same time using Hario V60 glass drippers.  You can expand your coffee palate and learn more about the regional differences between coffees. I tried the Colombia Los Naranjos and the Ethiopia Sidama. The Colombia stood out for its cherry and orange flavors and the Ethiopia for its complex, wine-like flavors (it’s a natural-processed coffee).

Address: 1847 E Burnside, Portland, OR (map)
Hours: Monday-Friday 9am-2pm
Wi-Fi? No
Recommendations? Side by side pourovers


Aliviar Coffee moves to Sandy Boulevard

Aliviar Coffee has a new location. The café, serving Batdorf and Bronson coffee, moved from Northeast 42nd to 41st and Sandy, in a space adjacent to the Hollywood Theater.  The new spot has more space (seating approximately 25 people) and a more visible location. The hours have changed some too. The café now stays open until 9pm on Friday and Saturday evenings to catch Portlanders who come to the Hollywood District for the nightlife.


Address:  4128 NE Sandy, Portland, OR (map) 
Hours: Monday-Thursday 6:45am-5pm
            Friday 6:45am-9pm
            Saturday 7:45am-9pm
            Sunday 7:45am-5pm
Recommendations? The multi-grain bagel, toasted with cream cheese, if you’re hungry (as I was when I arrived)
Wi-Fi? Yes