DARK-ROAST ESPRESSO MACCHIATO - ITALY
Caffe Umbria, 303 NW 12th Ave., 241-5300, caffeumbria.com.
Caffe Umbria clings to tradition, in part because owner Emanuele Bizzarri is familiar with the repercussions of loosening one's grip. The fall of his father's business, Torrefazione Italia, which was compromised by the encroachment of an outside investor and eventually swallowed whole by Starbucks, is one of the tragedies of the '90s coffee boom. And so, with his own company, Bizzarri has tempered ambitions. A decade in, Umbria—named for the Italian region where the Bizzarri family established its first roastery—sells to hundreds of establishments but maintains only two retail locations—one in its home base of Seattle and the other in the Pearl District. More importantly, Bizzarri and his partners adhere to the old way of doing things, with an emphasis on distinct blends of dark-roast, strong-ass espressos that come with small squares of equally dark chocolate on the side. Should you need to tart up your coffee, do so ever so slightly with a bit of milk foam for a macchiato. And though the Portland cafe is a sleek, modern, steel-and-glass enclosure, a brick-lined corner is set aside for soccer viewing, which might be the most authentic Italian accoutrement of all.
BUNA - ETHIOPIA
E'Njoni, 910 N Killingsworth St., 286-1401.
Coffee brewing in Ethiopia can be the work of a day, depending on how often you want to drink it. Call for a reservation at little orange-toned E'Njoni, and for a $14 fee plus $2 a cup they'll conduct an entire coffee ceremony from start to finish: first burning incense, then roasting the beans, then hand-grinding the hot beans and brewing them in a pretty pot called a jebena. It takes about a half-hour, which should make you look askance at the laziness of those seven-minute pourovers you'd been complaining about at the Little T cafe inside Union Way. Luckily, E'Njoni is as comfortable as any grandma's house, with knickknacks and drums and pictures on the walls and cushions on the floor, so you won't mind settling in for the duration.
TURKISH COFFEE - TURKEY
Mediterranean Exploration Company, 333 NW 13th Ave., 222-0906, mediterraneanexplorationcompany.com.
John Gorham's new Pearl restaurant is a grab bag of foods, from Spain to the Levant. Among the highlights is the copper pot of Turkish coffee served in wee glass mugs and a little plate of pitted dates. The beans are a custom dark roast from Water Avenue, which is popping up everywhere this year (page 17). Here, in keeping with Turkish custom, the beans are finely ground and boiled in the pot until they've taken on the sweet, roasty character of a nice stout.
TURKISH COFFEE - BOSNIA
Marino Adriatic Cafe, 4129 SE Division St., 231-1313.
Like so many other lands formerly colonized by an empire bent on exporting its traditions, the once Ottoman lands of Bosnia have an interesting take on the traditions left by a now-distant power. Marino Adriatic Cafe is a coffee shop you could pass a thousand times without entering unless beckoned by belly dancing or open-mic night. But Marino is a low-key outlet for the Bosnian version of Turkish coffee served in a little copper pot on a copper plate, with a tiny white cup and sugar cubes. The blend leans toward bitter, but a big case of tempting pastries (baklava!) helps even things out.
CA PHE SUA DA - VIETNAM
Pho Oregon, 2518 NE 82nd Ave., 262-8816.
Like the banh mi, Vietnamese iced coffee owes its existence mostly to the French. While colonized, the Southeast Asian nation got shipments of dark-roast coffee for espresso, which, with fresh milk being hard to get, and with the sun burning hot on the muggy jungles, was adapted into this tasty mix of deep, dark espresso, ice and sweetened condensed milk. Mash it all together with a spoon, and you have the original frappe. You can find Vietnamese iced coffee on the back page at most Portland pho joints—and a similar Thai iced coffee—but the version served at Pho Oregon is tops.
CAFE CUBANO - CUBA
Fifty Licks, 2021 SE Clinton St., No. 101, 954-294-8868, fifty-licks.com.
Cuban coffee works on a premise similar to Vietnamese and Thai coffee: Make a hugely bitter espresso, then sweeten the crap out of it. But the Cubans keep it hot, and instead of adding milk they'll dump in a pile of sugar, often even as the coffee is brewing. Chad Draizin of Fifty Licks ice cream hails from South Florida, where he learned how to make a proper cafe Cubano from his Cuban grandma. So in addition to his not-quite-50 flavors of high-end ice cream, he offers fine cups of Cuban-style coffee with Cafe Bustelo grounds and demerara sugar in his bright, airy cafe space. You can up the ante by throwing toasted milk ice cream into a cafe Cubano for an affogato, which will make a concoction somehow simultaneously Cuban, Italian and Vietnamese.
YUANYANG - HONG KONG
Red Robe Teahouse, 310 NW Davis St., 227-8855, redrobeteahouse.com.
Hong Kong regularly breaks the mighty wall between coffee and tea. Red Robe Teahouse, Portland's best spot for loose-leaf traditional Chinese teas (and traditional Chinese tea ceremonies), also makes a traditional Chinese yuanyang, which mixes in coffee with milk tea for a drink that's both wildly floral, oddly intense and really, really sweet; there's as much milk as there is coffee or tea. (Trivia note: The drink is named after Mandarin ducks, because they pop up in mismatched pairs.) It is a coffee drink for the heat—flowery, crisp, cool—making it almost a crime that Red Robe has no patio.
CAFE DE OLLA - MEXICO
Revolución Coffee House, 1432 SW 6th Ave., 224-3174, revolucioncoffeehouse.com.
Cancel that honeymoon to Puerto Vallarta. If coffee
culture is an accurate barometer of a region's climate, then Mexico must
be a much colder, more drizzly place than advertised. Dating to the
pre-Columbian era, the country's traditional hot drinks seem designed
more for self-insulation than to provide a morning jolt. Naturally, they
translate well to the Pacific Northwest. Maria Garcia opened
Revolución, a small, orange-walled cafe near Portland State, in March.
The cafe de olla (literally, "coffee in a pot") is brewed in a clay pot,
with fair-trade beans from Eugene roaster Cafe Mam, lending earthiness
to the wintry, cinnamon-infused flavor. Skip your normal
augmentations—it doesn't need them—and have a cup with the pantzin bread
or one of the hearty tamales. In the chill of fall, the effect is like
being wrapped in a warm serape...or, if you prefer, a Pendleton sweater.