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    Entries in Portland (168)


    Stormy PDX: Where'd the sun go? (plus a visit to North Portland)

    Experiencing the weather is kind of like drinking coffee, in that it is such a universal human experience (if you think the analogy is a stretch, consider the fact that people drink more than 700 billion cups of coffee each year). Growing up in a farming family, the weather was always a topic of conversation at meal times, at the hardware store, on Sundays in church—pretty much everywhere you went. Even though we couldn’t do anything to control the weather, life revolved around it. Weather dictated what you could do in the fields each day, and was the most important factor in how the crops would turn out. If it rained too little or too much, was too hot, too cold, or too windy (it’s hard to keep farmers happy), stress levels around our house would go up. When a late spring shower broke a long stretch of drought, it was grounds for celebration. Perhaps that’s why I still pay so much attention to the weather. Old habits die hard. –WH

    The view from inside Coffee Division today.

    If you’ve lived on the East Coast or in the Midwest, you might jeer at the fuss Portlanders make over a couple inches of snow. A Nor’easter in Boston that dumps a foot of snow overnight causes less disruption than the few inches we’ve received over three days (though as I write this, a third wave of storm is really starting to pile up the snow outside). Portland just doesn’t have a lot of equipment dedicated to clearing the streets. Seeing a snowplow in Portland is kind of like seeing a bobcat in Eastern Washington. You know they exist, but they’re rare enough that you might spend your whole life there and never see one. As infrequently as it snows, why should the city spend much money on snow equipment? Especially since it has already dedicated so much funding to paving roadways and putting in sidewalks in Southeast Portland (oh, wait….)

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    Third Wave Coffee Tours: a great introduction to Portland coffee

    When you visit somewhere new for the first time, one of the best ways to get a feel for your new surroundings is to find a local guide. Whether you are looking for museums,  restaurants, or other attractions that don’t always make it into the guidebooks (or to the top of the Google search rankings), a good guide can make your experience much better.

    The same holds true if you are looking for good coffee. Portland’s reputation for coffee is well-known around the world, yet it can still be a challenge for tourists (or even locals) to choose where to go when they want to explore the city’s coffee scene (granted, one of the challenges is that there are so many options). A new company, Third Wave Coffee Tours, owned and operated by Lora Woodruff, is making it more convenient to find good coffee, whether you are making your first trip to Portland or have lived here all your life.

    Lora Woodruff, Third Wave Coffee Tours owner and tour guide

    I first heard about Third Wave Coffee Tours when I saw one of the company’s flyers on the coffee bar at Spella Caffè. Curious, I reached out to Woodruff for an interview, and she invited me to join her on one of the several tours she operates each week. Tuesday was the best day of the week for me to join her, which meant we would be exploring The Pearl District and Northwest Portland.

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    Portland Coffee’s Got Seoul: The Korean-Portland Coffee Connection

    At the beginning of October, I had the pleasure of hosting sixteen Korean coffee professionals for a tour of the Portland coffee scene. In two and a half days, we visited eight cafés, five roasteries, two coffee equipment stores, and attended three different educational events. The itinerary was probably a little too ambitious—by the end of each day, the everyone was floating around in a caffeinated haze. Jet lag contributed to their exhaustion, but so did the crammed schedule. It was the first time I had ever organized a group like this, and I wanted to show them as much of Portland coffee as I could in a short time  (mission accomplished). On the last day, we decided to skip several planned stops so everyone could go shopping (there is more to life than coffee, after all).

    Even with the slightly-too-busy schedule, the group seemed to have a good time. We had perfect weather (something I look back upon fondly, watching the falling rain), several laughs, and some in-depth coffee discussions. The best part was exchanging a bit of each others’ cultures and connecting over coffee. Portland did a great job of hosting, and the passion of the city’s coffee people came through as they showed us their companies and explained what made them each unique.


    Our group at Nossa Familia's roastery.

    This week, it will be the Koreans’ turn to show me around. I will be in Seoul, South Korea, to participate in theAngel-in-us World Barista Grand Prix (AWBG) as a sensory judge. Angel-in-us is a café chain in Korea, owned by Lotte, a large food retail conglomerate founded in Japan, and long-established in Korea as well. For the past several years, Angel-in-us has sponsored barista competitions in Korea, but this will be the first time competitors (and judges) have come from outside Korea. The competition will be held during the Seoul Café Show, one of the biggest coffee trade shows in Asia.* COFFEE Monthly magazine, one of the main sponsors of the Korean-Portland coffee tour, is also a sponsor of the ABWG.

    I can’t wait for the trip. I don’t know if the schedule will be quite as full as our tour in Portland, and I’m sure I won’t want to shop as much as some of my new friends did, but it should be a great week all the same.


    * The ABWG is separate from the Korean Barista Championship (KBC), also taking place this week




    Bikes, Brakes and Culinary Liberties 

    If someone created a list of signs that Portland is starting to grow on you, one of them would have to be, “You spend more time on your bike than in your car.” That describes me, at least when the weather is good (true Portlandians commute by bike in the rain, but I’m not there yet). Portland prides itself as a bike-friendly city, with lots of trails and designated biking streets (complete with sharrows!) that fill up with bicycles during the morning and afternoon commutes.An aspiring bike commuter

    Traveling around Portland by bike is invigorating. Similar to walking, when you’re on a bike, you get to experience the sights, sounds, and smells of the city at a much more intimate level than you would if you were in a car (a good thing, until you get stuck behind a garbage truck). Riding in traffic provides an adrenaline rush because you are moving pretty fast without much to protect you. Lurking in the back of your mind, especially when you’re riding fast, is that you could crash at any time, and hitting the pavement hurts. Believe me.

    Since I started biking in Portland two years ago, I’ve wrecked twice. The first time, I was hit by a car (yeah, that was fun). Riding up Naito toward the Hawthorne Bridge in the bike lane, a driver forgot to check her blind spot before pulling into a parking space, and unbeknownst to her, she had to go through me to get there. Fortunately, the crash was more of a sideswipe than a full-on collision. Plowing through her right side mirror, I bounced up onto the curb and landed on my side. We were both lucky, as I came away with nothing more than a few scratches on my foot, and she came away with no insurance claims from me. She seemed more traumatized by the collision than I was.

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    Five questions for….Bernie Diveley, Barista at Coffee Division

    Note: “Five Questions for…” is a new article series, consisting of short Q&As to help you get to know the people who work in and around coffee. I send the person ten questions, and he or she gets to pick five to answer (in this case, Diveley chose to answer more than five). Some will be in Portland, others elsewhere. Responses may be edited for grammar, clarity and, if necessary, brevity.

    Bernie Diveley works as a barista at Coffee Division, the flagship café for 5 Points Coffee Roasters, at SE Division and 35th Place. Coffee Division is one of my regular stops in Southeast PDX (I wrote about half of my book there). A burgeoning coffee enthusiast, Diveley always seems to have a smile on his face to greet customers. He doesn’t seem to mind answering my coffee questions, and once helped me out by loaning me a coffee documentary on DVD. Originally from Los Angeles, Diveley first came to Portland in 2007.Diveley in action

    How did you get into coffee?

    When I moved to Portland I quickly realized how much coffee was a part of this city.  I got hired at Peet's on Hawthorne and after having my first natural processed Ethiopian my view of coffee completely changed.  I then worked at Lone Pine Coffee Roasters in Bend for a couple years and I was really able to work on my skills as a barista.

    What is your most memorable coffee experience?

    My first tasting note when cupping. Snickers!

    Who are your biggest influences in coffee?

    Duane Sorenson, Geoff Watts, Peter Giuliano, James Hoffman, James Freeman, Paul Katzeff, Michael Phillips and Tom Owens.

    What is your specialty as a barista?

    My specialty as a barista is remembering to give thanks before pulling a shot or steaming milk. I realize that I'm at the end of a long chain and I know a lot of work went into that chain.  There's a lot to be thankful for when making a drink. The fruit itself, the farmers, the cows, all the harvesting, processing and shipping, the machines, the water, my health. And I respect the customers time and the money they give for a memorable coffee experience.

    What do you do when you’re not serving coffee?


    What’s your hidden superpower that few people know about?

    I do pull ups, push ups and sit ups everyday.  SSHHH...

    Where did your last best shot come from (other than at your own shop)?

    Flight of Heart espresso from Either/Or (in Sellwood).

    What’s the best beer in Portland?

    Laurelwood.  Free Range Red – Malty, or Workhorse IPA  - Hoppy

    What’s your dream job?

    Drummer in a jazz band, like Mel Brown.

    And the result


    Christopher David Experience Design – the Next Generation of the Multi-Use Space

    On hot summer days, now a distant memory, the Pearl District’s Jamison Square teems with activity. From miles around, the park’s wading pool attracts parents who bring their kids to cool their toes and survive the heat. Joyful shrieks of children splashing and frolicking in the water echo off the walls of nearby condos and fill the open space.

    When autumn arrives, the pace of activity slows. Pedestrians saunter through the square, holding on to the season’s waning moments of sun and warmth. Leaves turn golden, bathing the plaza with amber in the afternoon light. Streetcars rumble past on schedule, the metal of the steel rails screeching under the weight of the wheels. Sharply-dressed women strut by in heels, slowly, to make sure they are seen. Fit, toned joggers in short shorts and tight tees bounce along the boardwalk. Curious kids clamber up the park’s granite bear, testing their bravery as they climb to the top of the statue before leaping off, like chicks taking their first plunge from the nest. Toddlers wobble along the top of the tan stone wall that splits the square, their mothers leisurely following behind, pushing high-dollar strollers with one hand, and holding smartphones to their ear with the other. Benches surrounding the park fill up with friends, neighbors, and nappers.

    Amidst this activity, a new café sits on the northwest corner of the square, waiting to be discovered. The name on the door says Christopher David, Interiors | Floral | Café (CDExD). The shop is a unique concept, a multi-use space that combines the diverse interests and talents of its three owners: Chris Giovarelli (whose first and middle names adorn the door), an interior designer, Cosmin Bisorca, a flower and finance specialist, and Kevin Nichols, a former barista at Nuvrei and Water Avenue Coffee, who oversees the coffee side of the business. I stopped in and was able to chat with Nichols, who shared the story behind the company.

    First and foremost, CDExD is dedicated to beauty. The company started out as strictly a design firm, founded by Giovarelli in 2012. Looking to grow the business, Giovarelli knew he needed to get his work in front of the public. “Chris wanted a storefront to showcase his design and have it be a place to show the actual work that he does in people’s homes and businesses,” Nichols told me. “In doing that, we saw the opportunity to have a revenue stream from a small café inside the store, as well as the floral area. We decided to put all three of those together to have it work.”

    The three-in-one concept adds an interactive vitality to a space that would otherwise be limited to shoppers quietly perusing furniture and other fixtures. “It’s kind of a collision of worlds—the designer meets the barista meets the floral designer. We all came in under one roof to create a beautiful experience.” said Nichols, adding, “There’s not many places you can go where you can buy a bouquet, a latte, and a sofa.”

    The Coffee Business

    Naturally, I was curious about the coffee side of the business, so I asked Nichols to share his story too. Originally, from the D.C./Northern Virginia area, Nichols came to Portland in 2007. With a degree in geology from the University of South Carolina, Kevin worked in an environmental testing lab, but he found his job unfulfilling (being holed up in a lab all day did not lead to much human interaction). Outside the lab, he discovered for the first time that coffee could taste good. “Coming here, I first noticed all the latte art, and I was just fascinated by it,” he said. Nichols spent a year abroad in London, during which he decided to switch career paths and get into the coffee business. To get a head start on his new life, Nichols took an intensive course at the London School of Coffee that covered a gamut of topics, from roasting to pulling shots to latte art.

    Back in the Rose City, Kevin found a barista job at Nuvrei, where was trained by Matt Higgins, Coava Coffee’s owner (at that time, Nuvrei was a Coava wholesale account). From Nuvrei, Nichols moved to Water Avenue Coffee. When he interviewed for the Water Avenue position, Kevin was clear about his ultimate intentions. “I was honest with them,” he said. “I said my dream is to open up my own place. That’s what I want to do in the next couple years.” That was fine with Milletto and Smyth, who look to hire employees with enthusiasm for coffee, even if it causes them to lose them when they leave to do their own thing.

    Less than a year later—much sooner than originally planned—Nichols became a partner in the new business. “I was a little daunted about starting my own place, completely on my own,” Nichols said. “Then this came up—not only the opportunity to work with other people, but to work with friends.” When Nichols told Milletto and Smyth he was leaving to start the new business, they encouraged him to go for it and offered their support.

    Click here to see a few more photos of the shop.

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, the café serves Water Avenue Coffee. Nichols says his choice of coffee was an easy one. “I love the company and the coffee” he explained. “I spent close to a year working there and I just fell in love with the product and the people who work there. I wanted to bring their coffee to the Pearl and I wanted to put their coffee in a beautiful place.”

    CDExD is the fourth café to have inhabited the Jamison Square location during the five years I have been in Portland, so I asked Nichols how the new business would be successful where others were not. He said the mix of talents and the experience of the owners gave CDExD an advantage. In addition to selling goods and services, the puts on several classes each month, in home decoration, floral arranging, and coffee (Nichols will be teaching a class on how to brew a pourover at home the next one will be Wednesday, October 23, at 7:00pm. Details about the classes can be found on the company website). CDExD does design and flowers for events as well. The diverse offerings are intended to complement each other.

    Time will tell how the three-in-one model works as a business, but Christopher David makes a pleasant stop in the north end of the Pearl. Between the furniture, the flowers, and the coffee, the shop is like a little bit of Paris in the heart of the Pearl. It combines the elegance of the Champs-Élysées with elements of third wave coffee, such as the low counter and the open coffee bar, where baristas make drinks in full view of the customers. I might never have a living room as nice as the showroom floor, but I will happily sit at a table and enjoy the setting for the price of un café.

    Address: 910 NW 10th, Portland, OR 97209 (map)
    Hours: Monday-Saturday 7am-6pm
                Sunday 8am-5pm
    Phone: 503-206-8226
    Coffee: Water Avenue
    Recommendations? Take your drink and sit outside on a sunny afternoon
    Wi-Fi? Yes


    Video Friday: Unicorn-Free Coffee and Why the Government is Not like a Business

    Certifiably Strange (and funny)

    A couple videos to help you pass those last few hours of work before the weekend:

    First, a link to this video arrived in my inbox last night from Jonathan Sellwood. Rest assured, there won’t be any unicorns in your coffee if you get it from Cellar Door.  

    [Side note: Doesn’t Cellar Door’s Jeremy Adams (featured in the video) remind you of Jay Leno?]

    Is Government like Business?

    The second video is relevant to the battles currently happening in Washington, D.C., over the budget and the debt ceiling. The two main parties have starkly different visions for the role of the government. One sentiment that comes from the Republican side is that government should be run more like a business: “The government spends too much! It should have to balance its budget, just like I do with my business!

    This idea might seem logical, but the reality is a little more complicated. The video below, from, talks about three ways government is different than a business.