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May 22nd, 2013 WW Staff | Market Guide 2013
 

Market Guide 2013: Coffee and Tea

Caffeination stations.

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COFFEE

Clive Coffee

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

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.


Kobos Coffee

2355 NW Vaughn St., 222-2181, kobos.com. 

Though something of a lone reed in the retail desert of outer Northwest Portland, this locally owned coffee roaster and purveyor of quality kitchenware makes it worth going out of your way. It’s one-stop shopping for kitchen basics, plus glassware and coffee, tea and espresso-making equipment. Don’t miss the corner devoted to cleaning tools and supplies, and grab a cup to go on your way out. BW.

Shopping list: Technivorm Moccamaster coffee maker, porcelain travel mug, scrub brushes.


Mr. Green Beans

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

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.


Stumptown Annex (NEW!)

100 SE Salmon St., 467-4123, stumptowncoffee.com/locations/annex.

It must’ve pissed off Duane Sorenson something fierce, watching his old-guard Belmont Street tasting annex get blazingly outsignified by the hit-you-over-the-head-with-it craft environs of Coava’s bamboo-lined machine shop and Ristretto Roasters’ beautiful little power-substation cafe. And so: the riposte. Stumptown’s tasting room now exists adjacent to an actual functioning coffee warehouse, with an entrance so hidden away in an industrial parking lot you’ll probably have to ask a local loading-dock worker for directions. Once you’re inside, it’s less like a warehouse and more like the lobby for an arts condo, with machinery parts museum-displayed like the hipbones of dinosaurs. It’s the same old Annex in spirit, however, with 3 pm daily tastings and meticulous pour-overs by some terribly attentive dude in a plaid shirt who’s happy to send you home with some bulk direct-trade Indonesia Sulawesi Toarco Toraja from the warehouse next door. MK

Shopping list: Beans, man. Beans.


Water Avenue Coffee

1028 SE Water Ave., 808-7084, wateravenuecoffee.com.

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.


TEA

Foxfire Teas

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

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.


Red Robe Teahouse (NEW!)

310 NW Davis St., Suite A, 227-8855, redrobeteahouse.com.

After the demise of Serenity Art in Fubonn last year, it was easy for the Asian-tea lover to despair. It was not, however, necessary. Red Robe Teahouse, which opened in 2011, is a lovely little Chinese teahouse and restaurant run with eminent graciousness by owner Pearl Zhang. The selection of teas is small but extremely well curated, and despite the westside location and sumptuous décor the loose-leaf, vintaged oolongs, greens and pu-erhs cost no more (generally $5.95 an ounce) than at any other specialty tea shop in town. The difference is in the hospitality, which Zhang has a special knack for during her tea ceremonies, and in the deep knowledge that comes from specialization. The shop chooses its sourcing extremely carefully for just a few varieties, in particular an award-winning Da Hong Pao Oolong (which Zhang was so confident about she handed it out as a free sample with the pu-erh I came in for on my last visit, saying, “You can get it next time”). MK.

Shopping list: Tea bricks, loose-leaf 2007 Dayi Menghai Yun Xiang Pu-erh. Gold Award Da Hong Pao.


Stash Retail Store and Tea Bar (NEW!)

3972 N Mississippi Ave., 971-717-6370, stashtea.com.

Relentlessly branded with Stash’s clean lines and slightly subtle takes on primary colors, the display behind the counter looks as much like a Pantone set as a tea selection. But despite Stash’s rep for crowd-pleaser bagged teas, the shop takes its retail arm startlingly seriously, with an array of more than 300 loose-leaf tea styles up for sale, alongside deco teapots and Breville design-modernist sets. They are not, however, traditionalists; the shop also offers frothy Starbucks-y tea lattes. Consider this inaugural Stash store the tea version of a handshake. Not too serious, and you won’t become friends, but it’s certainly friendly. MK.

Shopping list: Stash’s loose-leaf rooibos chai is pretty damn good, for the caffeine-averse.


Steven Smith Teamaker

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

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 tearoom is narrowing down which flavors to take home. DC.

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


Tao of Tea 

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

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-erh. 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. 

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 tearoom—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. 

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.

 
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