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May 16th, 2012 WW Staff | Market Guide
 

Devour 2012: Tea & Coffee

teacoffee_devour2012_3828MR. GREEN BEANS - IMAGE: rosnaps.com

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Top Picks:
  • Clive Coffee
    to ogle the machines.
  • Mr. Green Beans
    to learn to roast it yourself.
  • Serenity Art
    for an education in fermented tea.
  • Stumptown Annex
    for a cupping.
  • Townshend’s Alberta Street Teahouse
    to find inner peace.

Clive Coffee

79 SE Taylor St., 784-3464, clivecoffee.com, Closed Sunday-Monday.

[ESPRESSO GEEKERY] While most good coffeehouses in town now have the customary shelf o’ brewers for sale, this industrial showroom is really the only place for the serious home espresso geek. The zhoozhed-up warehouse space is a gallery of glistening high-end coffee gadgets that would have most automatic Nespresso machines running for their lives. In addition to “prosumer” machines and grinders from the likes of Rancilio, La Cimbali, La Spaziale, Mazzer and Rocket, Clive sells just about every accessory you could possibly need to re-create your favorite coffee bar at home, minus the snitty barista (though you could probably pick one up on Craigslist): knock boxes, tamps, cleaning equipment, steaming pitchers, glassware—even sugar bowls. There are regular, reasonably priced espresso-making classes, and an in-house repairman to fix things after you inevitably do something stupid with your new $3,000 kit. Clive also roasts and sells its own line of specialty coffee, and you can set up regular deliveries to your home, even by bike if you live close enough. RB.

Shopping list: Home barista kits, Clive pour-over stand, Pigeon Toe Ceramics mugs, coffee beans.


Foxfire Teas

2505 SE 11th Ave., No. 105, 288-6869, foxfireteas.com, Closed Sunday-Tuesday.

[TEA] Tucked around the back of the Ford Building, Foxfire Teas feels like a special find. The former warehouse space is minimally furnished, the better to showcase more than 75 fine teas. The extensive menu offers tasting notes, but the best way to select tea is to chat with the knowledgeable staff and take a big breath of scented air from each proffered tin. The teas (sold by the ounce) are complemented by a small selection of Portlandia-approved teaware and accessories, including locally crafted mugs and cotton-mesh tea filters. For a true tea-loving cook, consider picking up a tin of tea-seed oil, which, according to the staff, tastes like olive oil but can be cooked at higher temperatures. A note to coffee-shop sitters: With just one couch for tired browsers, Foxfire isn’t the place to set up shop for the afternoon; leave your laptop behind and pick out some tea to take home. MHW.

Shopping list: Blooming tea, tea-seed oil, reusable tea filters.


Mr. Green Beans

3932 N Mississippi Ave., 288-8698, mrgreenbeanspdx.com. 

[DIY COFFEE] Now that time-stamped, locally roasted coffee is available on every street corner, home roasting is no longer required for those who crave the freshest of fresh coffee. These days it’s all about experimentation and frugality. Whether you’re bent on inventing new blends or hoping to save a little cash, this Mississippi Avenue shop has the goods for you. The 20 or so varieties of green beans on offer come from all over the coffee-growing world and range from $5.75 per pound for Brazil Pico Aguada to $10 for Kenya Fairview Estate AA. Given that top-quality roasted beans are running a buck an ounce, you could do worse than trying your hand with a skillet and spatula. Mr. Green Beans also carries cheese-making, canning and soap-making supplies for the full-spectrum DIY fanatic, and offers classes in their use. BW.

Shopping list: Zassenhaus burr grinder, heirloom yogurt culture, water-bath canner.


Serenity Art

2850 SE 82nd Ave., Suite 26, inside Fubonn Shopping Center, 788-1288, serenityartinc.com. 

[TEA] This cluttered little shop is without a doubt the best place in the city to buy imported Chinese tea and the tools with which to prepare and consume it. The variety is baffling, and you’ll want to turn to the owner, Fung, for help choosing between the jars and bags of black and green tea. Which grade of bi luo chun is best? He’ll know. Especially impressive are the enormous bricks of pu-erh, some as big as a tire and staggeringly expensive. BW.

Shopping list: Grade-A Polay ($64 per half pound), tiny ceramic cups.


Steven Smith Teamaker

1626 NW Thurman St., 719-8752, smithtea.com. Closed Saturday-Sunday.

[TEA] What can you expect from one of the founders of Stash and Tazo teas? The ultimate tea experience. Visiting Steven Smith Teamaker is a delightful education in tea appreciation. Ask for a tea flight and the staff will guide your choices. You’ll be encouraged to slurp your tea from a spoon; like wine, the flavors are more pronounced when it’s aerated. Try the lovely bai mu dan, a white tea with a delicate, yet complex vegetal flavor. The Brahmin’s Choice black tea is redolent of garden earth and petals brushed by a breeze. Sweet Red Nectar herbal blend tastes delicious hot or iced. And the Oregon peppermint tea bag emits such a lively scent it could be a car freshener. But brew it, too, because the first sip tingles on your tongue. The only problem you’ll have in this tea room is narrowing down which flavors to take home. DC.

Shopping list: Loose and bagged full-leaf white, green, oolong, black and herbal teas.


Stumptown Annex

3352 SE Belmont St., 467-4123, stumptowncoffee.com/locations/annex.

[COFFEE] Don’t mistake this coffee connoisseur’s gem for one of its cafe cousins—the annex is no conventional coffee shop. Outfitted with only the most minimalist furnishings (for cream or sugar, you have to walk two doors down to a regular Stumptown cafe), the annex consists solely of five tiny tables, a wall of unusual coffee-brewing contraptions for sale, and the bar from which baristas operate. Large glass containers filled with single-origin coffees line the back wall, awaiting selection from a steady trickle of clients. The skinny, bespectacled staff seem happy to point customers in the direction of certain coffees, highlighting a particular roast’s nuttiness or complexity the way one might evaluate a fine wine. If you’ve ever wondered how loudly to slurp your brew or which roasts have a hint of raspberry or brown sugar, hit up the Annex’s free daily coffee tastings at noon and 2 pm. NB.

Shopping list: Organic Peruvian coffee beans, vacuum pot, brewed-to-order cup of joe.


Tao of Tea 

3430 SE Belmont St., 736-0119, taooftea.com.

[TEA] Right next door to its teahouse on Southeast Belmont Street, Tao of Tea offers a “leaf room” and retail space, where customers can buy in bulk from the full menu of carefully sourced teas and talk with a tea expert about proper teaware to accompany your oolong or pu-ehr. Each weekend from 3 to 5 pm the back counter is turned over to samplings of multiple teas from the same region, or perhaps several with the same flavors. The staff really know their stuff and are excited to share, so don’t be afraid to ask stupid questions like “what’s an Assam?” (Answer: a province in India where more tea is grown than anywhere else in the world. Also, the tea that’s used in most English breakfast blends.) MHW.

Shopping list: Delicate tea sets, 500 Mile Chai concentrate, herbal teas.


TeaZone

510 NW 11th Ave., 221-2130, teazone.com. 

[TEA] Although the décor is somewhere between that of a college coffeehouse and a folksy gift store, this Pearl District cafe is, at heart, a British tea room—it’s run by a Kiwi, holds high tea on Sundays and is the kind of place where staff casually reel off terms like “Special Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe.” A confused mishmash of menus offering alcoholic tea cocktails, bubble tea, tea smoothies and hummus plates might throw you, but ask for the take-home loose-leaf list, which contains a very serious range of Darjeeling, Assam and specialty teas—some retailing for $10 an ounce. The cafe also whips up a pretty flawless British scone, which comes with imported Devonshire cream. It wouldn’t be a proper cuppa without one. RB.

Shopping list: First flush Darjeeling teas, breakfast teas.


Townshend’s Alberta Street Teahouse

2223 NE Alberta St., 445-6699, townshendstea.com. 

[TEA] This warm Alberta teahouse is cute as a button, full of comfy couches, houseplants and a wonderful aroma of spice. It’s an incredibly restorative environment in which to curl up with a fragrant brew and spend some time poking through apothecary bottles full of loose-leaf teas to take home. Despite the British-sounding name, the range belies the store’s beginnings as a college cafe, with a focus on herbal and Asian teas—there are 11 different types of chai—and a special menu of blends promising “curative” properties. And if you’re into that sort of thing, Townshend’s also makes the city’s best kombucha, a funky fermented tea popular with hippies and health freaks. RB.

Shopping list: Loose-leaf herbal teas, chai, teaware.


Water Avenue Coffee

1028 SE Water Ave., 621-8081, wateravenuecoffee.com.

[COFFEE] Water Avenue is first and foremost a roaster. The vintage cast-iron French coffee roaster is visible, hulking and shiny in the back half of the small shop, and on weekdays the scent of the beans fills the air. The cafe itself invites caffeine junkies to relax a bit at the polished wood counters and browse barista magazines while waiting for a fresh cup of pour-over coffee. Water Avenue stocks the gadgetry needed to create the pour-over experience at home as well as Steve Smith teas for non-coffee drinkers. MHW.

Shopping list: Coffee by the pound, ceramic cones for pour-over brewing, Tastebud bagels.

 
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