The second half of our coffee journey. After four days in Portland, we rented a car and drove coastal Route 101 through Oregon and into California. But, of course, we fueled up before departing Portland at one last coffee stop: Heart Coffee Roasters. Friendly and professional coffee service seems to be the norm in this town. I had an Aeropress of a Rwandan coffee & Megan enjoyed a shot of a single-origin espresso from Ethiopia. Delicious!
A quick overnight in Eugene, OR and we discovered this micro-brewery down a back alleyway. Bought a 'grumbler' of beer (the smaller version of a growler) which went perfectly with our riverside lunch (first cold swim of the new year might have happened here). Can someone open up a Falling Sky in Deer Isle, Maine?
Next stop: San Francisco!
Our city blocks have expanded a bit in comparison to Portland, so we utilized the Fulton Ave. bus to get to this most incredible coffee roaster / cafe located in the SOMA district: Sightglass Coffee. Wow, o, wow! Just look at their space!
Then it was off to meet up with Dan B., a former Deer Isle resident and employee at Haystack School of Arts and Crafts. Dan has recently entered the world of art school in SF. He's been tapping into some coffee and taking down notes since he arrived, so we let him do the leading. Conveniently enough, he choose a Blue Bottle kiosk located next to the Heath Ceramics factory. We sampled our first iced coffee drink from Blue Bottle: the New Orleans style iced cold brew. Brewed overnight for up to 24 hours, the drink is a mix of coffee and roasted chicory with a touch of simple syrup to sweeten it up just right. Interested? Here's a recipe to try at home.
Continuing on the coffee trail, we headed to Four Barrel where we spied...a female coffee roaster!
Ritual Coffee. This names seems to sum it all up. As defined by Google, a ritual is a ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order. At Ritual Coffee, coffee is brewed via pour-over method into glass carafes and made right in front of your eyes. What is your morning coffee ritual?
Stopped in to see friends at Alite Designs in the Mission. For all you locals, take the opportunity to visit their workshop / retail space on Friday's where you can witness backpacks being hand sewn all while the weekly marketing meeting takes place. Gorgeous space, great people, and they even have a camping gear 'lending library' where you can borrow chairs and backpacks, etc. for up to a week!
Our lovely host in San Francisco, Megan's aunt 'Het' who decided to climb aboard this fire truck as the firefighters went in to a coffee shop for a midday boost. Het, can we please be like you when we grow up?!
Oh yes, back to coffee! We were recommended to head out to Trouble Coffee in the Sunset neighborhood and I am sure glad we did. The shop was tight - a bit like our space in the Seamark building - and you were forced to nudge your way in and make a request. I witnessed the man in front of me walking away with this huge slice of toast. I was curious if it was burnt, but nope! That's just a layer of cinnamon sugar glazing the top. So we ordered up a filtered coffee (the darkest bean I've had on this coffee tour thus far), a monster piece of toast, and basked in the sunshine on this gorgeous California day.
On our final day in the city, we got the opportunity to chat with Nicholas Cho & Trish Rothgeb of Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters. Having combined experience of 30+ years in the coffee industry, we were grateful for the dialogue and exchange + a delicious pour-over of Colombian coffee. We look forward to seeing you both at SCAA!
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Overall impressions from our west coast coffee tour?
The initial greeting when you walk into a shop for the first time is oh so important. For some reason the coffee at the friendliest shops seemed to actually taste better. Maybe workers are happier, maybe they aren't in such a rush, but always remember to offer a friendly smile and explanation of how things work to ease a person into the experience.
Coffee service is done very, very well in both Portland and San Francisco. When you order an espresso, you receive a similar size cup full of sparkling water. Cleanse your pallet first, then sip the java. Due to start-up and investment costs, we at 44 North have chosen not to offer brewed cups of espresso at this point in time, but we do believe that some of coffee's finest and most favorable nuances can be detected in this tiny concentrated cup. For now, we will continue to brew via manual methods and educate our customers as we go on devices that can be easily purchased and experienced in one's own home. Stay tuned for our coffee 'lending library.' We were so inspired by Alite's camping gear library that we will be offering coffee brewing equipment on lend starting in April. Please ask us for more details.
Finally, there are some places in the USA where March = full blown spring. Oregon & California were alive and blossoming and that greatly supported the rejuvenation within us. Recently I read an interview with the owner of Trouble Coffee asking the best piece of advice they have ever received about small business? The answer: To have "lots of patience and to be a good boss to yourself." This trip supported exactly that.
Thanks for following our coffee journey! Sincerely, Megan and Melissa