Portland, June, 2009

Just a quick word on my recent trip to Portland… after a few days of reflecting on it all. Definitely the most stressful trip home ever. What was supposed to be a 15 minute vehicle emissions test, turned into 48 hours of running around, back to the mechanic, back to the test, driving to get the on board diagnostic system to run it’s test, and then running back to try to retest. I got to know the people at the emissions test well. I never passed… They just told me to call their offices and fill out a form. I felt very defeated on the trip back to Los Angeles.

I had some pretty epic cups of coffee during my time there. Notable was the first espresso I had on the trip. I stopped on the drive up to say hello to the wonderful crew at Verve. Chris Baca seems quite happy, and I’m stoked for him. He pulled me an SO El Salvador that set me straight.

On the drive up, I debated whether I would have time to hit my old home turff at Lava Java. Ironically, I ended up there every morning. All week long they were pulling Stumptown’s single origin Panama Carmen Estate. Each morning I had a 5 oz. americano made with the stuff, and it was interesting to see how the coffee developed. Lime citrus, brown sugar sweetness, all the while, maintaining a clean finish on the palate.

My first day in town, I made my way to Coffee House Northwest. Possibly my favorite barista in all of Portland, Daniel Gunther, made me several drinks, all using a coffee from the Muraba Coop in Rwanda. Sweet black cherry sweetness, and a molassis finish made both the espresso and a cappuccino terrific.

Honestly, I think my favorite part of this trip was the lack of hairbender. Don’t get it twisted and think I’m hating all over the place… I would say the same thing about black cat if I was in Chicago. It says something about how the coffee scene is maturing when I can go to several coffee bars and get good espresso that is not the same thing. I had black cat, I had coffee from Rwanda, I had coffee from panama, I had a coffee from Bolivia, and I had hairbender.

I had coffee with friends and old customers whom I hadn’t seen in quite awhile, and in the end, that was what made the trip. I’ll probably forget what single origin it was that I had with that 5 oz americano, but I won’t forget the three ladies I was sitting with.

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