Food Freaks Unite's Blog

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The Stumptown Sell Out September 19, 2011

Filed under: Drinks — Food Freaks Unite @ 4:20 pm
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Hot Chocolate and a Latte

Coffee is an institution in the Northwest.  You are either a corporate drinker or you support the independently owned operators.  If you go both ways, you may be confused or merely don’t care what you are drinking as long as there is caffeine in it.  You probably think Pepsi and Coca-Cola are the same things or perhaps your taste buds have failed you.  In any event, a large portion of people will be on one side or the other.  Their caffeine lines are drawn and they are loyal to where they get their java.  It is, after all, how many of us even make it through the day so more than likely we will have a preference on where we go to get this need met. 

So what happens to supporters of small business when their beloved independent owned shop sells out to a larger corporation?  Do you stay with what you know and love or do you go elsewhere?  Devout coffee lovers of this variety may grapple with this very question and debate whether to spend their money elsewhere based on this principle alone.  The uproar of Stumptown “selling out” to a New York firm was a clear indication that people felt the end of a coffee era was coming to pass.   Sure the owner Duane Sorenson still remains in the picture albeit to quell some of the criticisms of his decision he knew would ensue from this deal.  People were shocked and outraged. It even made news headlines here.  Is this even normal?  It is just coffee right?  But here in the NW it really isn’t.  It’s much more than that.  There is a clear coffee culture established and if you drink it then you are a part of it whether you know it or not because to some extent we are labelled by what brand we drink and what cafes we frequent. 

Stumptown represented something more than a coffee shop.  It was a pioneer in this town and set  high standards for coffee roasting and extracting. It was the little engine that could and was able to stand next to the big coffee players and hold its own.  It was Portland’s local coffee and we were proud to call it exclusively ours but now we can no longer do that. I can personally say I was saddened to hear about the sale but this has become the fate of several well-known coffee establishments. Remember Coffee People? Torrefazione?  Sold out to Starbucks and I’ve never been back.  I’ve met small business owners who have been offered to be bought out by them because in this town you can open right next to one and still be successful. Luckily, Starbucks wasn’t the winning bidder but that doesn’t mean Stumptown won’t suffer the consequences of the same fate.  In this instance, bigger doesn’t always mean better. 

I’m not sure Stumptown will lose too many customers although the grumblings will linger for a while.  The question is, will it lose its hipster style and following and will they add shit like frappuccinos to appease the corporate drinkers? Hasn’t the world been confused enough with what really is a macchiato?  The entire country of Italy is collectively laughing at this creation I’m sure of it.  (Google what a macchiato really is if you don’t already know).  I’ll admit that I am  a coffee snob and I’m proud of it.  The thought of all this makes me sick to my stomach but we will all have to wait and see what happens.  Luckily, I have my favorite place in town so my loyalty will stay with them for now.  That is, until they sell out and then I’m screwed. 


Stumptown Coffee Roasters on Urbanspoon


Drink this: Coffee at Barista ~ Latte November 15, 2010

Filed under: Drinks,My Favs — Food Freaks Unite @ 4:20 pm
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Damn fine coffee

My friends call me a coffee snob.  Certifiable at that.  I can’t really argue with them because I know that it’s true.  I live in a city that encourages such snobbery.  Portland has more coffee shops than is really necessary but I love having options rather than being stuck with corporate god-awful coffee.  Yes, you know which one I’m talking about! 

Good coffee isn’t created by just pressing a button.  You need to have working knowledge of the beans, how to extract the flavor correctly and how to create dreamy creamy foam.  I also cannot forget the beautiful latte art that tops my drinks.  I end up taking a momentary pause before enjoying my cup of coffee because I hate to ruin the pretty design! 

I currently have 2 places that are my “go to” spots for coffee (Albina Press and Stumptown) and now I can add one more to the list after giving  Barista a try. I can’t really say I was surprised at how well crafted my beverage was given the owner is Billy Wilson, our resident barista champion.  I go to the Alberta Street location where parking is a bit easier than the one in the Pearl District.  I love the decor and simple vintage touches.  The first time I went there, I was helped by 2 very nice men, dressed up as if they were on the set of Mad Men.  Seriously, they dressed sharped and looked quite dapper.  I was impressed the first time I went there and continue to be with each subsequent visit.  The staff is friendly and they offer several coffee roasters to choose from if you wish to try out something different.  The one thing I hope to splurge on soon is the vacuum pot coffees that I’ve read about and naturally I’m intrigued with.   That will set me back about $8-10 a cup.  Yes that’s right, a 12 ounce cup at that!  Isn’t that the ultimate in coffee snobbery? Caviar priced coffee.  I love it 🙂

Location: 1725 NE Alberta St

Cost: $4 with extra shots

Barista on Urbanspoon