Case Study Downtown

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.

Bright and shiny

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.

All lit up at nightCase 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
Wi-Fi? Yes
Recommendations? Grab a cup and sit at the window to watch Portland pass by

Courier Coffee Roasters

It is always a challenge for coffee companies to carve out their place in the market, and even more so in a town that has as many cafés and roasters as Portland has. Some companies distinguish themselves by offering a great café experience, some by freshly roasting coffee in their cafés and others stand out simply by being weird. Courier Coffee Roasters distinguishes itself in two ways: 1) it always has ultra-fresh coffee; and 2) it uses bicycles to deliver its coffee around the city.

Courier prides itself on providing freshly roasted coffee, freshly ground coffee and freshly brewed coffee every day. If you haven’t gotten the message yet (and we preach it a lot around here), freshness matters. Each day, Joel and Alex, Courier’s owners, roast the quantity of beans they think they will use that day (or perhaps in the next two days). It can be a grind (pun intended) to roast every day in small quantities, but if that is what it takes to provide people with the freshest coffee, they are willing to do it.

Courier Coffee, with bike out front

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Public Domain- Live PDX Coffee Theater

Public Domain was the first stop on my  PDX trifecta the other day and I didn’t talk much about the café, so I would like to fill in some of the details today.

Public Domain used to be known as the Portland Coffeehouse and I had not been to the location since it was remodeled and re-branded. The difference between the two is like the difference between a dark, stormy night and a bright, sunny day. I was stunned by the transformation of what had been a grungy Portland coffee shop into the sleek, sparkling, super-hip-looking Public Domain.

Located one block north of Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland, Public Domain is a café owned by Portland’s Coffee Bean International. When you walk into the café, you notice two things. First, from the smell of the coffee, you know you are in a place that has high respect for the beverage. The aromas are strong and sweet, and they really stand out.

Public Domain

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Chilling at the Cloud Seven Café

It was a cold, rainy day when I visited the Cloud Seven Café. Cloud Seven is located at the Northeast corner of Jamison Square, in the same space where Sip ‘n Kranz used to be. I had hoped to find a warm spot to cozy up to an espresso (or two), but it didn’t quite work out that way. I was disappointed when I walked in and found the café to be quite cold. In fact, it didn’t seem that much warmer than outside. I could feel a very cool breeze blowing from the café ventilation system. I wasn’t the only one who thought it was cold inside either. Behind the bar I could see one of the baristas shivering. After a while, I was shivering too.

Just below cloud nine

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As you may have read earlier, when I went to the Pearl District’s Barista, I tried a very pricy vacuum pot of coffee. Barista is one of the trendier cafés in Portland, and it has an interesting spin to it. Instead of being aligned with a single roaster to provide its coffee, Barista selects whatever coffees it wants to, frequently rotating them. When you go, you might find that the coffee you loved so much last time isn’t even on the menu. Some might find this frustrating, but for those of you who like to try new things, Barista is right up your alley.


When I was at Barista, they had three different espressos on grind—Hair Bender (from Stumptown), Black Cat (Intelligentsia) and Apollo (Counterculture). For French press, they offered an Ethiopia Mordecofe and for the vacuum pot, an Ethiopia Sidama (Intelligentsia). So many choices! I was really tempted to try the Apollo, but I had gone there specifically to try out the vacuum pot. Therefore, Sidama it was.

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