We have our first-ever full-on review today, in Portland's Willamette Week:
We Portlanders are coffee people. In our admiration and appreciation
of coffee, we rank with the world’s most serious drinkers: the Swedes,
the Japanese, the Frisco kids. But for all our genuine adoration of
coffee and cafes, we can’t match bona fide coffee towns in sheer
variety of high-quality coffees on offer.
But with the opening of Ristretto Roasters’ second
location, in “The Hub” foodie complex on North Williams Avenue, things
just got a little more interesting. Owner Din Johnson has been roasting
coffee commercially out of the original cafe on Northeast 42nd Avenue
for three years. He has more or less paved the way for other small
specialty roasters like Cherry, Courier, Cellar Door and Spella. And
for that, we owe him.
Ristretto the Younger, however, takes coffee a little more
seriously than its parent operation and is raising the bar. For one,
the cafe is planning to offer regular, free coffee tastings
(“cuppings,” in the parlance of the trade) to the public. They’ve even
imported granite cupping tables from Brazil to prove they’re serious.
(What’s a “cupping table,” you ask? A very expensive lazy Susan.)
They also take atmosphere seriously. With the help of Holst
Architecture, the Ristretto team (including Johnson’s wife, Nancy
Rommelmann, who has written for WW in the past) has built a
beautiful space in which to appreciate coffee. The building’s soaring
ceilings create dimensionality and, blissfully, dissipate some of the
noise that comes stock-in-trade with a coffee operation. The cafe
itself is lifted, too—drinkers enter and climb a half-staircase to the
raised floor. The effect is theatrical: the midmorning pick-me-up made
goes on, and while writer Hanna Neuschwander has some quibbles with the
espresso -- quibbles that, this morning, Din said may have some merit; that
the espresso in our first two weeks of opening may not have been as dialed in as he likes [which sounds sort of arcane, which it is, espresso being a mix of beans that needs to be properly blended
and balanced and allowed to rest and breathe. It's beautiful now,
lively and smooth] -- she's a really good writer, and clearly got the
space and what it means and can mean.
I'm actually sitting in the cafe
now (of course we have wifi), playing spy to see if/how many new faces
show up. Having been for years on the other side of writing reviews, I
know the impact they can have. I baked some extra muffins.
Forget Viagra, Spanish fly and complicated undergarments: all you need to inspire those, um, warm feelings, according to this article in the LA Times, is a cup of coffee:
Looking to improve your romantic odds? Get your date a steaming cup of coffee.
the implication of a new study by researchers who wanted to see if
there was any connection between physical and emotional heat.To their surprise, they found that people who
held a cup of hot coffee for 10 to 25 seconds warmed to a perfect
stranger. Holding a cup of iced coffee had the opposite effect.
you want to make a good impression, advised study author Lawrence E.
Williams, a University of Colorado at Boulder assistant professor of
marketing, a fresh cup of coffee "may bias the situation in your favor."