The Albina Press

4637 N. Albina,    Portland, OR

When most Americans think of Mississippi, they think of the Deep South. Not in PDX! Here “Mississippi” is the funky area crammed in just E of the freeway, a neighborhood anchored by the huge, popular Rebuilding center (everything salvageable, including the kitchen sink). Nearby an art store sells big metal insects and a nursery sells wiggly red worms. Pizza trivia pub and a food cart add atmosphere. A little farther up the road is The Albina Press, today’s featured coffee house (Ah, yes, it has art on the wall, as does the typical PDX coffee house–or so the Portlandia spoof goes. I do not judge art!).

Albina Press is housed in a very old building with revamped old beams and a very well-used floor patched with small pieces of scrap metal (as if straight out of the original Depression), each carefully nailed down with enough nails to show any mouse who’s boss. The front street door is recessed and flanked by 2 windows containing seating. Lots of old pipes and old-style ceiling fans add to the antique look, though track lights on the ceilings detract. Oddly (or maybe not so oddly, considering the track lights), the tables and chairs are matching and of a simple black-and-wood look. In the back there appears to be an add-on room (more recently acquired) with 3 couches and coffee bean sacks on the ceiling. The most charming décor offering was the 1-lb. Hills Bros. coffee can holding sugar & such (the guy on that can does look sleepy as he traipses by, drinking from his cup. Mississippi is a sleepy little area, not bothering to “dress” for the public either).

Fare: I had the standard $1.50 in-house Stumptown coffee and a day-old muffin. They had the average range of teas, specialty coffees, and fattening eats, and sold packages of coffee. Stumptown is good, and very Portlandic.

Bathroom: old worn linoleum, and interesting graffiti (on the towel holder and scratched on the mirror). Also a stained-glass window that you don’t normally notice unless you look up. Bathroom did the job.

Clientele: a good trickle of customers of all kinds, including bicycle riders, computer users & readers, and dog-walkers (the dog sauntered in–on its leash with its humans–unbothered by those in charge). I was impressed by the lax attitude (BTW, that same attitude might contribute to the feeling I had that I was “out-of-place”; everyone else seemed to have his/ her role down pat, including the dog and a drop-in bathroom user).

Rating: 3 beans of coffee (out of 5). Definitely a neighborhood place.