July 3, 2017– Jet Black Coffee Company

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As visitors to 155+ independently owned coffee/tea/bakery shops around Portland, we are heartened when we come across a new gathering spots in an underserved area.   And so it is in Gateway where the proprietors of Jet Black recently opened one of Portland’s few vegan shops.   What the owners have taken on in terms of remodeling a former office building that is bounded on two sides by arterial streets, was quite a challenge.   What they achieved in terms of product – a homey outpost that feels like new construction even with the cinder block walls, plus a sizable outside patio that takes one’s mind off all the traffic – is quite remarkable.  Whether the surrounding neighborhoods will embrace it is still to be determined.

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Today’s twosome covered a wide range of discussion topics: the arrival of D’s new RV for touring/camping, to access some of his wife’s and his favorite mountain destinations; their debut trip to Oxbox and upcoming one to the Redwoods; H + P’s wonderful trip to Juneau and Homer, staying with friends and meeting their circle of friends, giving them a greater appreciation for the richness of each community; their counseling around intimacy at this stage in their lives, and their resolution to go dancing on a regular basis; and H’s upcoming 70th b-day.

 

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http://www.jetblackcoffeecompany.com          11150 NE Weidler

 

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June 18, 2017– Revisiting Nectar Cafe

Like last week when we toured around some before descending on a relatively close-by  NE shop, we three plus Ozora followed E, this time through some of his Cully projects: the commercial renovations taking place at the former Rose’s site, a 1/2 acre residential site off NE 42nd on a deep parcel that he’s yet to acquire but offers multiple mouth watering possibilities, a recently purchased set of lots on NE 43rd that will have some form of courtyard units, and the under-construction Mason St. townhomes.

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We then landed at the Nectar Cafe, surprisingly situated in a commercial strip in the Hollywood District.  “Surprisingly” because this is only one of two destinations in our 155 portfolio of shops that we’ve visited in a strip mall, and because the owner has been most successful in making it feel homey despite the setting.   In this intimate, cozy setting there’s a brightly colored wall mural as well as other knick-knacks, a reliance on chalk and blackboards, and an aversion from anything that might seem pretentious.  Admittedly on a busy day Nectar’s space limitations may also limit feeling comfortable for hanging out for a long period of time, otherwise it is a very welcoming space.

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Among today’s discussion topics were H’s plans for his 70th bday festivities including a samba band and parade, the status of new City regulations to encourage infill, the nimbyists in certain middle and upper middle neighborhoods opposed, and challenges/responses re emergency preparedness.

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http://www.nectarcoffeebar.com           1925 NE 42nd, ste. e

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June 11, 2017– Revisiting Twenty-Six Cafe

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One of the unintended consequences of our bicyclists living in Central NE and generally riding 30-45 minutes to a shop where we can spend 45 minutes+ debriefing about the past week, is that we visit NE shops less frequently than those in other quadrants. Thus, though we really liked the Twenty-Six Cafe the one time we visited, it’s been three years + since we returned. What do we like? The way the owners laid out their narrow property to make it feel roomier; the sophisticated ambiance of the front room through chandeliers, soft furniture, wall art, wallpaper, and small round tables; and the covered more rustic-feeling back patio.

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Today’s discussion was primarily in update mode, as many of us hadn’t seen each other in a while.   M and E were back from conferences on emergency preparedness and smart growth, each noting the increasing number of speakers from the Obama administration who now – all of a sudden – were easier to book than they were before Trump was sworn-in;   J’s still enjoying his ukelele lessons and jamming opportunities, as well as Smart Reading accomplishments at Rigler; and H ran through the 3 prongs of activities planned for his 70th b-day: morning hike with grandchildren; lunch with family and close friends; evening street party potluck/samba band/parade.

twentysix.cntr And where did we ride by for 30 minutes to end up at the Twenty-Six Cafe which was just over 2 miles from our starting point: Interesting new development projects that E was either personally working on, or that he was intrigued by like Camp Michigan in Mississippi, where the owners rent out detached single rooms without kitchens, to travelers.

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http://26cafe.com/         2723 NE 7th Ave.

 

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June 4, 2017– Revisiting Speedboat Coffee

We have visited iterations of past shops/ownerships in this challenging location – it’s small and not pedestrian friendly – for 10+ years, and are very pleased to report the new owner’s improvements are wonderful.  She’s spiffied up the interior with some physical remodeling, brought in completely new bright furniture, and introduced other food/art/background music touches to make the shop more inviting.  Hanging out for long periods will still be an issue when it gets crowded because of limited size, but major kudos for what she’s been able to achieve.

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Even though the sky was overcast for today’s two bicyclists, riding southward cross town when the flowers/shrubs/trees were still peaking, and going through at least 4 different distinct socioeconomic neighborhoods, made for another invigorating ride. Discussion-wise, T related on his experience meeting his birth siblings back in NJ for the first time, being accepted so easily, having laughs, and yet learning how much more challenging their childhood and lives have been due to their mother’s off/on addictions; H updated him on his own brother’s fund-raising walk/jog in Seattle for Make-A-Wish, and  how his brother thankfully was in much better physical shape; Speaking of Seattle, T told how his daughter Yolanda was just offered her first professional job there teaching high school chemistry, and will initially live with common friends  Kim and Greg; and as you might expect, we talked about our wives, :).

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5115 SE Foster               Speedboatcoffee.com

 

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May 28, 2017– Five Points Coffee Roasters

Despite there being only two of us this Memorial Day weekend, we felt glorious, convinced that this was a picture perfect morning to be bicycling along the Willamette towards Johns Landing.  Bubbling with how beautiful Portland looked, we just about burst into song with Oh What a Beautiful Morning!

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Our understanding is that the owners of Coffee Division started roasting for their own coffee shop, then made their beans available for retail sale under the Five Points Coffee Roasters brand, and then opened up shops in Johns Landing and Capital Highway.   The Johns Landing shop is a testament to what a crafts person can do with recycled wood and salvaged materials to create an attractive modern space .  It feels light, airy, comfortable, and welcoming, even without the homey atmosphere of older sites.  We can imagine that at busy times, it might feel cramped and not ideal for hanging out, but today there were few customers.

FivePoints.cntrIn addition to blabbering on how stimulated and fortunate we felt to be able to bicycle in PDX, we: Reported on the latest plays we’ve attended – high marks for the Importance of Being Earnest, the Language Archives, and Oye Oya; Raves also for the wildflowers on Dog Mountain, but you have to get there early or late in the day order to get a parking spot; Compared practices for overactive bladders: H has given up on saw palmetto and now trying 2 teaspoons of raisins before bed; and Compared alternative summer backpack plans now that the Sierras and other western ranges are still snowed in.

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0315 SW Dakota             http://www.fivepointscoffeeroasters.com

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May 21, 2017– Revisiting Anna Bannanas NW

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Three of us this overcast morning, ventured into NW to revisit this Anna Bananas outlet that claims to be Portland’s first coffee shop.  Our last time here we were not impressed: the shop is in a large house that had been neglected, and had the feeling of a rabbit’s warren, with corridors and stairways going off every which way.   We were told today by one of the owners that he and his partner – recently retired with no prior coffee shop experience – had a passion for keeping the building standing and shop going.  They’ve introduced a food menu, and spiffied it the building up a bunch.  It’s heartening to hear how he left his very stressful job, but now though working 6 days a week-plus, feels less stress and lots of joy.

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Today’s discussion was filled mostly with humorous, self-effacing anecdotes:  H, for example, obliviously leaving his shoulder pack with laptop in the driveway of an Anacortes AirBNB and driving off to the San Juans ferry, only saved by wife P’s remembering that she left her library book back at the AirnB; G’s experience at the vacuum store with the salesman talking solely to his wife though he is the primary user; D’s tale of buying his current vacuum at Stark’s 20 years back, and their memorable salesmen.  We were no doubt stimulated in these anecdotes by the loud boomer couple next to us, most probably on their hfirst internet date with each otther.  He seemed to lean to small talk, while she wanted to get “answers to the big questions” around his intentions.  With her volume, it was hard for us not to hear.

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1214 NW 21st                              annabannanasnw.com

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May 14, 2017– Revisiting Oui Presse

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Oui for the shop having some French traits, and Presse for devoting limited space to two racks of magazine, OP has an attractive quirky feel that’s developed a long-time devoted following.  Even though it’s relatively small and not flashy on a busy street like Hawthorne, and doesn’t have some homey features that have worked well elsewhere – i.e., a soft couch for example – Oui Presse has obviously succeeded.  We visited 6 years ago when it had a different, less effective layout, and wondered how it’d do with all the splashier competition; now we know the answer: very fine thank you.

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Discussion-wise, M told of his illuminating volunteer activity surveying a group of Prineville residents re their views on climate change: he found they had a strong desire to share information, generally believed man has played a contributing role to its worsening, but as-a-rule were not supportive of government instituting new regulations.  Then D talked of his experience working with Portland citizens on the residential in-fill project; he sympathized with neighborhood residents who didn’t want their neighborhoods negatively affected by rampant growth, and were worried that their children could not afford to live in the areas in which they were raised; but he asserted that the only way to make a dent on neighborhood affordability is to increase the number of residential units each neighborhood possesses, not freeze availability.

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1740 SE Hawthorne           http://www.oui-presse.com

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