The Annex is closing (moving)

I was slightly unnerved the other morning when I heard the Stumptown Annex on Belmont is closing its doors at the end of the year. Was it really true that the best place in Portland for learning about coffee will soon be no more?

The answer is yes, but

Stumptown Annex. Photo courtesy Jinsu LeeThe Annex is indeed closing at the end of the year. Coffee enthusiasts will no longer be able to visit Belmont for the free cuppings offered twice a day, where the Annex employees teach you more than you ever thought you could know about coffee.  Stumptown Belmont’s customers will no longer have an alternative place to sit if the noisy Belmont café next door is full. Sadly, the Annex in its current form is leaving.

But—and here’s the good news—the Annex is not going away, it’s only moving to the new Stumptown headquarters in the inner Southeast Industrial district. The new space is supposed to be ready by the first of the year, if things go as planned.

Liam, who manages the Annex, told me he’s looking forward to the move because it will allow the Annex folks to be closer to where their coffees are roasted. He also hopes to offer tours of the new facility, including the roasting plant. All of the details have not been worked out yet, but employees are planning as seamless a transition as possible. So if you head to Belmont Ave. in the early next year for a cupping and find that the Annex is gone—don’t be alarmed. Just turn around and head back toward downtown.

In other news, Stumptown has a new website. By itself, that probably is not big news, but I did notice the company has added Los Angeles to its list of locations. L.A. is listed as “Coming Soon”, but its presence on the site must mean that the long-rumored roastery is almost ready to go. Portland’s influence in the coffee world continues to grow.

Mid-May Links

A smattering of news from around the coffee world:

Oregon Public Broadcasting has a nice video about the USBC in Portland. In the article, the producer did forget to mention two other PDX baristas who competed, Laila Ghambari (Stumptown) and Tom Pikaart (Water Avenue), so we’ll make sure they get a mention here. If we're being picky, it's Brett Felchner, not Brett Fletcher (edits!).

Leave it to Philly – From a city that boos Santa Claus and throws batteries at its underachieving NFL team, this might not come as a surprise. A man who apparently did not want to pay for his sandwich threw his coffee at the cashier in a Philadelphia doughnut store.

At least he didn’t steal cash and cigarettes too.

It’s up, it’s down, it’s up, it’s way down. Investors holding Green Mountain Coffee Roasters stock have been on a quite a ride over the last year. The company’s stock price went from below $40 to $115 to back down to about $45 at the end of the year. This year has been more of the same. So far, the first five months of the year have brought changes of +19%, +22%, -28%, +4% and -50%, respectively. With K-Cup patents running out this fall, traders aren’t sure what to do. Then again, judging from the last two weeks, maybe they are.

Do you find it hard to carry your coffee around without spilling it? If so, you should probably slow down and keep your eye on the cup. You will be less likely to match the “sloshing frequency” of the coffee with your gait.

One of Japanese eating champion Takeru Kobayashi’s world records is eating 69 hotdogs in ten minutes, so he probably didn’t find his latest stunt too difficult. Kobayashi drinks 42 cups of coffee in about three minutes in a promotional video for Eight O’Clock Coffee.

Fresh-roasted (really fresh) coffee is coming to Detroit. Roasting Plant, the New York coffee company that roasts, grinds and brews coffee on demand is expanding out of the Big Apple and into the Motor City. I question the assertion that it is the “best coffee in Manhattan” but it would be interesting to see how the whole operation works. link

Tension is growing between people who work/study in cafés and those who go there to drink coffee or meet friends.

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

Coffee Links for the Week September 26, 2011

Lots about Starbucks today…When you are the world’s biggest coffee company, you’re going to make news.

A Starbucks employee got fired recently after making a video of himself singing about his day at work. Oops. For anyone who has worked as a barista (especially for the big green apron), or any other service industry, there is enough truth in the song to be funny (warning: contains family-unfriendly language). link

Can we just go ahead and label coffee a superbeverage? A study now shows that the drink helps older female smokers avoid depression (but what about younger male non-smokers?) link

To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Starbucks has released a t-shirt with a coffee-stain design that costs $85. Anyone running out to get one? link

A car running on coffee grounds recently set a speed record, reaching 77.5 mph. Looking at the pictures, is that a flux capacitor they’ve got in there? link

Coffee + hard alcohol = Four Loko for the upper class. link

National Coffee Day is coming September 29th. Krispy Kreme is giving away free coffee. link

There are some sick people out there. No question about it. I would be mad as hell if this happened to someone in my family too, and I hope that they nail the sick sonofabi--- who put the camera in a Starbucks restroom. But suing Starbucks for being negligent? That doesn’t make a lot of sense either. link

Coffee news and notes

After two weeks away from Portland, I made it back down the gorge. It was sooooo nice to be welcomed back with 60-degree, cloudy weather all week. Okay, maybe that’s not true, but it was nice to get back to some good coffee shops. My favorite café in Dayton has closed, so I spent a couple weeks coffee-free, surviving (but barely).

In other news, school has started up again in most places, and hopefully, so will the regularity of these blog posts. Here are a few links for your Friday afternoon:

Better watch what’s in that coffee: a woman in Florida spiked her husband’s coffee with Xanax (a prescription drug used to treat anxiety) in an effort to “calm him down.” The local police disagreed with her account, charging her with attempted murder. link

Fortunately, we live in a very different era than 50 years ago, especially when thinking of coffee, advertising and the relationship between men and women. Someone put together a video called “Coffee Jerks,” with TV clips from the 1950s and 60s. It’s almost painful to watch.  link

High school students across Ontario, Canada, will have to sneak their caffeine into schools after the government banned coffee from being sold on campus. Toronto’s Globe and Mail (newspaper) is not too impressed with the ban. Student seem to be getting around the ban, however, as some are bringing coffee makers from home to plug in by their lockers. Really? link

Think that having a light rail line outside your door will help your coffee business? Some café owners in Minneapolis might disagree. link

Alec Baldwin complaining about a Starbucks barista with an attitude problem? The axiom “it takes one to know one” might be applicable here. link

If you only read the headline to this article, you might think to yourself “what happens when we run out of bags?” Not to worry, though. We can always re-use them…

Starbuckian K-cuppers will be able to get their fix at home starting in November. link

I’m going to leave out the link to the article for this one because I want to support local businesses, but when a coffee shop owner brags about having 30 flavors of syrup available, she ought to take coffee out of their business name…