The Portland Coffee Extravaganza

Big surprise, there’s an abundance of coffee shops in Portland. I made sure that this time, I visited mostly shops that didn’t serve Stumptown coffee. Nothing against those guys, but getting the same coffee everywhere tends to get a bit boring. Here’s the rundown.

Public Domain Coffee

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Located right in downtown Portland this one was among the first people lead me to. Not surprisingly they’re offering their own set of roasted coffee, among them an Ethiopia Sidamo and a Panama La Esmeralda.

The latter was one of the coffees I had at Public Domain, and even though the roast itself was fresh, the beans themselves were already pretty stale. It didn’t taste as strongly as a La Esmeralda usually does. The barista apologized and made us a Burundi coffee to make up for it, but to tell you the truth, the Esmeralda still tasted better.

Public Domain serves espresso beverages (with three espresso machines!) and all kinds of drip coffees, including Chemex and pour over. The odd part is that it belongs to Coffee Bean International, a somewhat larger coffee conglomerate. You notice that here and there, and the shop itself looks a bit sterile, but it’s still a pretty decent coffee place in downtown Portland.

Heart

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This shop is pretty new, it opened last October. Coincidentally, I just met a girl in Berlin the other day who helped set up shop, roasting and business.

Anyhoo, I was taken here by Whitney and Dave (The Whitney Tuttles). It’s a nice little shop with the roaster right in the middle, and they’re also serving filtered coffee and espresso beverages. I went for a Syphon, one of my favorite ways to brew coffee.

If you’re on the other side of the river, i.e. not in downtown, Heart is a definite recommendation.

Ristretto

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I spent my first day in Portland almost entirely sitting at Ristretto and working. Not a great way to spend a day in Portland, but at least there was legit coffee around. Ristretto’s roasting is a bit darker and roastier than the other coffees I’ve had in Portland, but it makes for a good french press, which they serve.

Courier Coffee

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A nice little shop right across from the Ace Hotel, in case you get tired of Stumptown at the Ace. They serve coffee in rather unusual containers, but that’s the spirit of hip coffee, so what are you gonna do. Their roast is pretty good, I enjoyed a good gold filter drip from Ecuador and a latte on another day.

They also have giant cinnamon rolls, holy crap, they’re huge!

A highly recommended shop, great coffee.

Coava Coffee

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Hands down, the greatest coffee you’ll get in Portland. Okay, other than Heart, that is. These guys know their stuff, and they invented some new brewing accessories to boot, including the Kone and the Disk.

Seriously, you need to go to here and order a Chemex. The shop is beautiful, they’re sharing it with a bamboo furniture and floor maker, with the coffee bar obviously made by the same people. Had an Ethiopia Sidama here, and it was without a doubt the best coffee I had in Portland.

The shop is located on the other side of the river, so a nice walk is in order to get your caffeine reward. Totally worth it.

Water Avenue

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Located just a few blocks from Coava, on Water Avenue (duh!), these guys also roast and serve their own coffee, with a pour over bar smiling at you right at the front of the shop. They roast and serve their own coffee too, no surprises there. I had a surprisingly good Mexican coffee here. Definitely worth a visit.

Barista

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Barista is a classic in Portland. I stumbled across them the first time we were in Portland in 2010. I quickly endorsed their shop and coffee making art because they serve other coffees Stumptown, actually mostly coffees not from Portland including but not limited to Ritual and Intelligentsia. They also serve Coava coffee.

Other than their shop in the Pearl they recently opened a shop on Alberta, which, as far as I know, was recently hit by a fire and is running a cart outside.

Honorable Mention: Stumptown at The Ace

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Can’t leave those guys out. The Ace is somewhat of my central point of orientation in Portland. It’s where I go to to meet old and new friends, it’s where adventures in the city start. And let’s face it, the setup at The Ace is still beautiful, so there you go.

Honorable Mention: Crema Bakery

Serving Coava and Stumptown, this little bakery and coffee shop is conveniently located right around the corner from the newly opened Grilled Cheese Grill Double Decker.

A Short Review of the Holgaroid Back

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I’ve had an original Holgaroid back (the one originally made by Polaroid) for a while now. It’s a great accessory, but unfortunately can only use type 80 film, which is almost impossible to come by these days. Unfortunate, because I like square. I realised that shopping mistake only when it was too late, when I already won the auction. Oh well, it’s still a nice toy to have in your collection, it’s an original! Here’s how the photos taken with it look like, a sample shot using Polaroid Viva film (a great film, by the way).

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Anyhoo, this year I decided I like the combination of Holga and instant film way too much to just leave it be with the Holgaroid back I had. So I went out and bought one of the newer ones, produced by A-Power in Japan, and sold by folks over at The Impossible Project. These are almost sold out, so I went ahead and bought me an early birthday pressie.

I have a lot of expired 664 film left in my fridge, so I went a bit nuts with it, with mixed results. First of all, I’m happy to be able to shoot with Holga and peel apart film again. Black and white film goes really nicely with the Holga I think. I was a bit skeptical at first, because obviously, using a type 100 film with a square format camera like the Holga leaves an unexposed area on the photo, but I figured I can live with that, and it’s really not a big deal. The overall exposure is larger than with a Hasselblad Polaroid back.

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First things to notice: compared to the original it just looks cheap and poorly manufactured. That’s sort of okay, because well, it’s for the Holga, and it’s good enough. Judge for yourself if it’s worth the money though. The original Polaroid back was quite nice that way, it felt sturdy and not cheap, and was just nicely designed for the Holga. The quality just felt really good, it came with a proper dark slide, and it didn’t leak any light. Which isn’t what I can say for this one.

The package already comes with a note from the folks at The Impossible Project, saying that it leaks light. When you take out the dark slide, all bets are off. The note suggests to leave the dark slide in about one fourth of the length, but even that doesn’t help. Depending on the sun’s angle there’s still a lot of light coming in through the side.

I ended up covering the slot with the dark slide instead, which helped in some cases, but I’ll have to figure something out to properly cover it in the long term. I can live with some light leaks, but this is pretty insane. I’d rather have the option of working with or without them as I see fit. Here’s some examples of what you may end up getting as results. The leaks and streaks depend on the sun’s angle as you can probably tell, and sometimes trying to cover the slot with the dark slide doesn’t do anything.

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The back costs somewhere between $150 and $180, which is quite a lot, but I really like the combination, so it’s worth it to me. Also, the ones sold by Freestyle Photo don’t even support type 80 film anymore, but as that’s very hard to come by, that’s probably no big deal.