Last time I wrote about Clive Coffee, they were in the process of moving to their new space in Portland (and were also running a temporary ad promotion on DCILY). Though I still haven’t made it in person, it’s still at the top of my list of places to visit in Oregon—SCAA in April? The shop is walking distance from both Coava Coffee and Water Avenue, so there’s no reason to miss it during your next coffee tour.
I finally got some photos of the new Clive showroom and it looks great. It resembles an adult toy store (not that kind) full of shiny things to play with and good coffee to brew and taste. Who wouldn’t want to spend an afternoon hanging out here?
Clive Coffee first showed up on my radar when I came across their custom designed Clive Stand, made with Oregon walnut. Since then, they’ve continued making those, while expanding their experimentation with beautiful woods. Recently, they’ve taken a Mini Vivaldi home espresso machine and replaced its underwhelming plastic side panels with a more luxurious outfit from the forests of Oregon. Lovely work.
Duane Sorenson, founder of Stumptown, has finally spoken more regarding new investment into the company. While he doesn’t answer all the questions many people are asking, as I said before, I take him at his word. Keep supporting farmers and selling great coffee and nothing else matters.
At a time when it’s difficult to find the financing to grow, run and operate a quality driven and sustainable business, I am pleased to announce that Stumptown has found an investor to help us offer opportunities and take care of our employees, farmers and customers like we’ve never been able to do before. I have been lucky enough to find an investor that will let me continue to run Stumptown and focus on the coffee.
Ashley E. Rodriguez is a former chef turned teacher, blogger, and mother who publishes a beautiful food blog called Not Without Salt. The site is filled with culinary adventures, recipes, and photos that all make you want to #popitinthegob. In March her family took a trip from Seattle to Portland and visited a few of the top shops in town—Coava, Barista, and Heart. The photos from their trip are fantastic and I wanted to share a few before sending you over to her lovely site to see the rest.
I want to start the new year by celebrating a coffee company that everyone should be watching in 2011—especially if you missed what they’ve been up to in 2010. Coava Coffee (pronounced “ko-vuh”), is a small company in Portland Oregon that’s already made big news in the coffee world and aren’t slowing down anytime soon.
Matt Higgins began Coava in 2009 and just a year ago, in January 2010, he was joined by best friend Keith Gehrke. In the last year, the duo have opened one of the most beautiful coffee bars I’ve ever seen, had over 25 coffees rated 90+ on Coffee Review, developed a stainless steel Chemex filter called the Kone, followed by its cousin—the Disk— for the AeroPress.
On January 1, Coava leaked photos of the latest gem to emerge from their lab—the Kone Funnel—a full immersion glass brewer that looks like part clever coffee dripper, part homemade beer-bong, and part chemistry lab. This latest creation uses a Kone filter inside of a glass funnel that’s equipped with a stopper. The stopper will allow a controlled release of coffee ranging from 10 seconds to 3 minutes depending on the brew variables. The official launch date is January 18th at the La Marzocco Out of the Box event, so expect a follow-up with more details in the future.
I visited Coava in November and got to experience the passion these guys have for coffee first hand. Though Keith was busy, I met Matt, who treated me to a nice shot of their Costa Rican Helsar and soon began talking more like an engineer than a barista, as he explained a bit about the process behind the Kone.
It was immediately discernible that Matt loved what he’s doing—so much that he’s even begun growing coffee in his basement to learn more about the process and hone his green coffee buying skills. Now that’s dedication.
The simplicity of Coava’s space is complimented by the finesse of the craft that went into building it out. The counter is generous and low, allowing a nice view of their single origin offerings as they’re brewed with a Chemex and Kone. A restored Probat sits just past the end of the counter, offering a public view of the roasting process and seating spreads throughout a large showroom shared with a Bamboo fabrication studio. Old drill presses and prototype furniture double as tables and industrial decoration, making the space feel raw but functional. If I could call any local cafe my own, this would be it.
Check out Coava and keep an eye on them as they continue contributing great things to the coffee industry this year.
UPDATE: As a part of the continuing Year of the Coava coverage I wanted to announce that representatives from Coava Coffee, Sam Purvis and Devin Chapman, have just swept the Northwest Regional Barista Competition and Brewers Cup, respectively. They will both move on to the United States Barista Championship this April in Houston. Congrats on the win! Read an interview with Sam Purvis on Willamette Week.
Last week I visited Portland, Oregon to see friends, speak with design students at PSU, and drink as much coffee as I could. I hadn’t been to Portland in 3 years and the coffee landscape had grown quite a bit. With a list of roasters and cafe’s to visit—which grew with each person I met—I explored, tasted, cupped, and enjoyed some of the best PDX has to offer. I also met a lot of the super friendly, super knowledgeable people behind the regions top coffee scene who continue to experiment and push coffee into new territory.
Sadly I forgot my camera, so the only photos I have come from a lowly iPhone. Enjoy.
I spent an entire day visiting 4 Stumptown locations. Above, the Belmont shop had a new, custom La Marzocco Mistral on the bar. Lovely
Right next door to the Belmont shop is the Stumptown Annex. A brew bar with no espresso machine. Just a great selection of beans and a relaxed environment to learn about coffee brewing, buy some beans, or take part in a complimentary cupping (every day at Noon and 2pm). I took part in the first one with a spread of 4 different Colombian origins and for the second, I just hung around to watch the brew demo. The crew at the Annex were great and up for talking about everything from the export issues in Ethiopia, to their favorite AeroPress techniques.
The next day I stopped by one of Portland’s newest roasters, Water Avenue Coffee. It’s a nice clean shop not far from Spirit of 77 (the best sports bar I’ve ever been to). I really loved the custom concrete pour over bar and the blue neon coffee sign. Joe from Reno let me hang out a bit while he closed up and talked about the barista school they run in the back of the shop and brewed up a nice sweet cup of El Salvador for me.
Next up was Coava (koh-va), which isn’t far from Water Avenue, and home of the K-One Kone filter they designed for the Chemex. Also open for less than a year, this shop is absolutely beautiful, my photos don’t do it justice, so be sure to check out the gallery on their website. The entire space is huge with the coffee bar tucked into one corner. A wood shop studio shares the space and there’s a collection of amazing tables on display throughout it. At first I wasn’t sure if I was in a furniture showroom, a workshop, or a cafe and hesitated to sit down.
I had a cup of Costa Rican Helsar brewed up with the Kone. I really enjoy how well the Kone retains the bright flavors and a bit of sediment, but not as much silt as a French press. Matt then pulled me a fantastic shot of their Honduras El Limon while we talked about the Kone. He quickly began to speak more like an engineer than a barista. Keith was busy roasting, so I didn’t have a chance to meet him, but I’m sure they’ll still be there next time I’m in town.
I also stopped into Barista for a shot from Sightglass roasters in SF. I always appreciate cafes that serve a variety of beans. There are too many good roasters out there to stick with one. These are friendly guys worth visiting in a nice shopping district of Portland called the Pearl.
On the morning I left, I met some friends at Crema, a nice cafe and bakery that serves Coava and Stumptown. The barista, Skip, made me a delightful cappuccino with Stumptown’s Hairbender and then brought over a shot of Coava’s El Salvador Santa Sofia to send me off to the airport on a good note.
I know there are a lot of great places I never made it too, but it would take more than 4 days to visit them all. I really wanted to stop by Heart Roasters before I left, but I ran out of time. They just turned a year old and I’ve heard many good things about them. Feel free to share any other cafe’s or roasters in Portland in the comments. I’d love to know about the gems I missed, so I’ll have more reason to go back soon!