Can you roast? Learn how (for free)

If you live in Portland for very long, the city’s culture starts growing on you. Whether you start to feel the urge to “put a bird on” everything, or to raise chickens in your back yard, spending time in Portland gives you a new perspective on life.  As you can tell, I have been especially drawn in by the city’s specialty coffee culture. It’s hard to resist.

One very “Portland”  characteristic is the do-it-yourself  (DIY) spirit. Portlanders are proud they can do things for themselves. They have an attitude geared toward self-sufficiency, a legacy of the city’s pioneer days. This attitude was captured well in Charles Heying’s book, Brews to Bikes. The book describes several industries dedicated to serving Portlanders who are into DIY artisanal pursuits.

It is not uncommon for these DIY endeavors turn into real businesses. In fact, many of the coffee companies in Portland were started by people who first learned how to roast coffee in their homes or garages, eventually figuring they could make a product that other people would pay to buy.

If you have some of that DIY spirit inside you, or if you ever wanted to learn how to roast coffee, you have an opportunity to learn for free. Happy Cup, a new Portland coffee company, is holding a contest that sits at the intersection of Portland’s coffee culture and its DIY culture.

Happy Cup was founded to support Full Life, a Portland program providing recreational and career opportunities for people with disabilities. I visited the company a couple weeks ago to get the full story (that article is still under development) and they told me about the contest. I considered not passing it along (to increase my own odds of winning), but that would be selfish.

The prize for the contest is a free class on how to roast your own coffee. Mr. Green Beans, a.k.a Trevin Miller (who currently does the roasting for Happy Cup), will hold a private roasting class for you and three of your friends. During the class, Miller works with you to create a signature blend customized to your own taste preferences. You will spend up to half a day with him, learning how to select the right beans and how to roast them to just the right point for full flavor.

Picture yourself learning how to run this

The winner will also get 52 bags of coffee (a year's supply for most of you) to take home that day. Drink it all yourself, or in true Portland fashion, barter with your neighbors for some of their backyard-fresh eggs.

There are two ways to enter. You can “like” Happy Cup on Facebook, or you can visit the Happy Cup website and enter with your name and email address. You don’t have to be a Portland resident to enter, but the free roasting class takes place at the Happy Cup roasting facility in Northeast Portland, so if you win you’ll have to figure out how to get there. The contest ends March 27th, with the winner will be announced on April 10th

Good luck!

We have a winner

The mystery café contest has come and gone. Congratulations to Vinnie Kinsella for figuring out that the café was Lents Commons, located at the corner of 92nd and Foster in SE Portland (review coming one of these days). As promised, Vinnie is going to receive a bag of fresh Portland coffee. He figured out that the café from the clues I sent out on Twitter (are you following Caffeinated PDX on Twitter yet?). 

The coffee prize this time is from Cellar Door, a roaster in inner SE PDX. Thomas Suprenant, a barista at Cellar Door who competed in the NWRBC, helped me select it. He chose a Costa Rica ‘Esquipulas’, a coffee that has been honey-processed, which means that a very specific amount of the fruit is left on the bean when it dries, adding a bit of sweetness and flavor to the finished beans. The coffee is described as having a “rich medium body, sweet lemon & honey hard-candy clarity.” It was roasted this morning, so it is fresh.

Waiting for the French press

Vinnie is a freelance writer, book editor, poet and wordsmith who also teaches in the Master’s of Book Publishing program at Portland State University (Go Vikings!). He is also a coffee shop enthusiast and regular reader of Caffeinated PDX. You can check out his website at Again, congratulations to Vinnie and thanks for reading!

Just for fun. . .free coffee

It's the first day of the month today, and you know what that means. . . . Tomorrow is the second.

Okay, that wasn't funny-I heard the groans. To make up for you having to put up with all of my bad jokes (and a few good ones), I want to try something. I'm going to give away a bag of coffee to the first person who can identify the café from the picture below. Call it the "It's the First of the Month and I Wanted to Post Something but I was Tired After Yesterday's Marathon Post so I Decided to Come up with Something to Keep You Interested Caffeinated Coffee Giveaway Contest". 

The coffee will be from a Portland-area roaster. It will probably be a 12oz bag, since most places seem to be reducing bag size rather their prices as the cost of green coffee shoots upward. I haven't picked the roaster or the coffee yet (sponsorship opportunity), but it will be a good one. I won't send you anything that is not fresh. However, if you live a long way from PDX, I can't guarantee that the coffee will be fresh by the time it gets to you. Then again, if you live a long way from PDX, you probably won't recognize the picture in the first place.

Each day, starting tomorrow and continuing until someone figures out the mystery, I will Tweet (I can't believe I just wrote that) a clue to help you. If you're not following me on Twitter, it might be a good time to start (obviously, I'm not above bribery). Click the button on the right sidebar to do that (it's the one with the blue bird). Good luck to all, and here goes nothing. . .

Recognize this?Oh yeah, one more thing. You should post your guesses in the comments section below. You get one guess per day. Please don't break that rule. If this goes over without too many problems, we may try something like it again next month.