The Art of Espresso Machines – the Van Der Westen Spirit

There´s the art of espresso, and then there's the art of the espresso machine. I stopped in at Heart last week and saw this sitting on the bar:

The machine, called the Spirit, was manufactured by Kees Van Der Westen, a Dutch industrial designer who spent several years building espresso machines in his spare time before working at La Marzocco, where he helped develop the Mistral. The barista said the look was patterned after the cockpit of a World War II bomber. It catches your eye in the same way walking by a chromed out Harley-Davidson, and it complements Heart’s minimal, early industrial space well.

This is what it looks like from the barista’s perspective (photo from manufacturer's website - click to see more): 

Packed with technology, the machine also pulls consistently good shots.

Very cool. 

Either/Or Café – Sellwood’s new coffee star

Southeast Portland is known for having a lot of neighborhood commercial districts, tucked away inside residential areas. These districts are full of hidden treasures, if you can find them. One new destination worth seeking out is Either/Or, a brand new coffee shop in Sellwood. Either/Or takes up a few square feet in the Old Sellwood Square, a small commercial center on Southeast 13th Avenue, two blocks south of Tacoma.

Either/Or’s owners, Natasha Miks and Ro Tam, live in North Portland, but they fell in love with Sellwood on trips to the area shopping for antiques. Coffee aficionadas, they thought the neighborhood’s offerings needed upgrading, so they decided to start a café. They leased the former site of Love Cup, spent a month remodeling it, and opened in the middle of March.

Either/Or’s main coffee is roasted by Heart. Ro and Natasha had gone to a lot of coffee shops around town and found that Heart always seemed to be their favorite. “We feel like Heart’s coffee is cutting edge,” Ro told me. “We like the way they take a scientific approach.”

Elegant service

Heart’s owner, Wille Yli-Luoma, is very careful about who he works with for wholesale accounts, so if Ro and Natasha have his trust, you know they are going to take good care of the coffee. They pull every shot of espresso in a way that optimizes it for each beverage. Recently, they began pulling their shots served as espresso with a little more volume, to bring out more sweetness and complexity. 

In addition to serving Heart coffees, Either/Or keeps a guest roasters’ espresso on grind (so far, the guests have been Sterling, Coava, and Roseline). The café also serves pastries and treats from Bake Shop. Several outdoor tables increase the seating capacity, at least when the weather is pleasant.

Ro Tam and Natasha Miks, Either/Or's owners, behind the bar

The shop has only one drawback. It’s kind of out of the way. “Nobody comes to this side of Tacoma,” Ro said.

They should start. Either/Or is a treasure that should not remain hidden.

Address: 8235 SE 13th (map)
Phone: 503-235-3474
Hours: Monday-Friday 7am-3:30pm
            Saturday-Sunday 8am-4pm
Coffee: Heart + rotating guest roaster
Wi-Fi? Yes
Recommendations? The espresso flight—two espressos side-by-side, paired with a small “tasting bite”