On this sunny, brisk, blustery, invigorating morning, five of us headed downtown to try out the latest Coava outpost. Though we’ve found the flagship on SE Grand visually delicious, the layout for hanging out there was less welcoming. Surprisingly, the setting for their 2nd shop – on SE Hawthorne – was cozy and very comfortable for hanging, provided it was not too busy. Meanwhile, their latest shop on SW Jefferson has the size to accommodate crowds, and possesses some trendy design features with a 2nd floor looking out over the first, wonderful window space, and a living eastern wall of plants. However, the rectangular layout upstairs did feel institutional, and the seats – even the bench along the northern wall – were uncomfortable if staying for more than 15 minutes.
Discussion-wise, we were all over the map. J and his brother are hoping to buy a fast, 17′ sailboat with an outrigger, that’s now for sale on the east coast; M provided critical public testimony at a DEQ hearing about their proposed air shed policy, because it does not go far enough to protect vulnerable populations; D brought us up to date on the dramatic turnover of City Bureau directors; G told us of his nearby relative who attracts rodents by feeding the vermin, and his narrowly escaping a bike accident; and H told about his son/daughter-in-law’s new accesssory dwelling unit, and the snafu around the new key lock malfunctioning.
1171 SW Jefferson coavacoffee.com
On a dark cloudy morning, three of us ventured to the Brooklyn neighborhood to see the latest incarnation of the True Brews space, a challenging high-ceilinged space, that we found to be a work in progress. Because of its size, the owners’ plans for also selling artwork and knick-knacks makes a lot of visual sense; but because the shop was not complete and there were few customers, there was not much vibrancy this particular Sunday morning.
With all three of us being former City employees, our discussion naturally was city-focused: we were mostly pleased that some former bureau heads were replaced by new blood; J’s nifty transportation-signaling firsts, but also his hellatious personnel experience; so many departments seemingly under-staffed, especially the police; and our disappointment with the chemistry of the Council in comparison to the office holders in the 1990s.
7325 SE Milwaukie http://www.rosecitycoffeeco.com
40 Lbs Coffee’s embrace of a theme that echoes Portland’s industrial/train/bridge past and present, is unique. Design elements include fabricated metal gears that convey images of steam engines and power plants; murals of Union Station and the Steel Bridge; metal chairs, straight-back benches, and a metal ordering counter. Though we like the uniqueness of the theme, the metal seats and tables aren’t that relaxing to hang out.
Discussion topics included Major League Soccer’s final four, how the Timbers might have fared but for injuries, Caleb Porter’s future, plans for expanding Providence Park, the Thorns attendance compared to the rest of the world, how beautifully the Trailblazers can play at times, and whether Portland will ever be ripe for a Major League Baseball team.
824 SW 2nd http://www.40lbscoffee.com
Guilder is one of those full service shops that also serves a limited menu of breakfast and lunch dishes, and alcohol, as well as pastries and hot drinks. It’s located in a stylish, recently constructed two-story brick building on what was a parking lot, and Guilder uses both stories. We found a lot to like, including the grand interesting views from upstairs, the lighting, and the shop’s variety of tables. In an era of simple designs, though, we still have some trouble with blank walls, and believe some visual variety – maybe via wall hangings – would be make Guilder even homier, as would a variety seats, some of the soft variety.
Because Guilder is only 1/2 mile from our Sunday starting point in NE, we three took a circuitous route through the Dekum Triangle and NE Alberta before reaching our destination. Discussion topics included M’s new car key-fob not working, D’s experience of episodes where batteries have had an extra short life or have not worked from the get-go; how some batteries have to breathe; M’s frustrations with Eveready customer service department; H’s wife P’s success scoring tickets at the box office for Hamilton after a 4 hr wait that started at 7 a.m., while most who tried to buy them on line were frustrated by the website crashing; and H’s saga of of the earlier key-fob technology when you could lock your car with the engine still running, as H once did in the Canadian Rockies, and his self-flagellation while waiting to be rescued by the Chevrolet rental car’s roadside assistance program.
2393 Fremont http://www.guildercafe.com
With outlets in the residential areas of NW Thurman and SE Division, we’re very happy to see St. Honore’s prized pastries being made available to residents and visitors in the downtown center of town. The spot they moved into has been totally rehabbed, so feels brand new with those strengths and weaknesses. Its primary strength is how well its windows and light fixtures make it bright; its primary weakness is that it feels a bit small and institutional, making hanging out a challenge.
Today’s discussion topics included H’s kudos for Profile Theater’s focus on Quiera Alegria Hudes and her Pulitzer Prize winner, Water by the Spoonful; M’s kudos for the documentary Minimalism that documents the change in direction of two young professionals who stopped their financial careers in order to live more simply and tout those benefits to others; D then recounted his own history re teaching voluntary simplicity, and contradictions he discovered both personally, and externally in visiting the residents of Lake Titicaca in Peru.
501 SW Broadway www,sainthonorebakery.com
Oracle is the most recent coffee shop to open in the S. Waterfront area, it is vegan through and through, and thanks to Willamette Week we learned it’s co-owned by the drummer of the Fall Out Boys, a popular band the three of us were unfamiliar with. In a new construction building, we liked the clean lines of the counter area, the light, and the particularly tasty food and drink. However, its small capacity and stark walls, hindered its ability to make us feel comfortable for hanging out for an extended period of time.
Topics today included updates on local climate change efforts, national political going-ons, our inability until today to have one of our spouses join us, and the varied success rates of the weatherpeople to forecast.
3875 SW Bond http://www.oraclecoffee.com
On this crisp fall day, 4 of us met at Tabor Bread, one of our favorite bakeries for hanging out, not to mention their tasty pastries. Unlike a lot of bakeries that thrive on high turnover, Tabor has more a more relaxed folk-music coffeehouse vibe and that helps with our feeling at home in terms of hanging out. Unfortunately, today the shop was a bit smoky as something was lost in the oven and burned, resulting in the opening of several skylights and windows.
Topics today included M still recuperating from his being doored on his bike this summer, the new bureaucratic paperwork that Health/Human Services is requiring for his consultancy work as they increase subcontracting out to private industry middlemen, and D turning 69 and thus his and R’s circuitous route to Tabor Bread.
5051 SE Hawthorne http://www.taborbread.com