Speedboat Coffee

5115 SE Foster Rd. ,  Portland, OR

Nestled amongst the carpet stores and other small businesses along Foster Rd. is a rather simple coffee shop called Speedboat Coffee, which intrigued me. I wondered, Why the name? Maybe, Java This or Grounds That, Cuppa Jo Something or even Speedy Caffeine Fix . But Speedboat Coffee? Do boaters even drink coffee? How about water skiers? Somehow the image of a boating person downing an ice-cold beer on a warm summer’s day, zipping past the slo-mo fishing boats and watercraft and giving the jet-skis a run for their money, better suits the speedboat image. If the speedboat riders drank coffee on-board, wouldn’t they be doused with piping hot liquid whenever the boat bumped across the bay or hit a wake? How would they get their refills? Maybe the idea is to serve those boaters who unwisely venture out on a questionable-weather day or those who fall in or otherwise get drenched? The shop’s mission might be to provide post-boating coffee or hot chocolate, to warm the cockles of the boaters’ hearts, afterwards. More likely the coffee shop people had speedboat paraphernalia they inherited from a dying tradition, and wanted to furnish their new place uniquely. They succeeded in that! The shop returns the patron to the 50’s, in a fun, boating sort of way. (If I ever set up my own coffee shop, I’ll have sled-dog photos and race posters, and gut-laced snowshoes on the wall and lots of furs around, and be a place sled-dog racers can thaw out after the snowy action is all over).

Back to the Speedboat coffee shop: It is basically a 2-room place, with a small area off the bathroom for kids “to make noise in”. Odd. The interior room has a fireplace (gas, I believe) with a couch in front of it, cozy-like, along with ordinary tables and chairs. Water skiis adorn the wall, along with boating pictures. Two small picnic tables outside offer you pleasant seating in the summer months, assuming, of course, that summer actually comes and your teeth haven’t been chattering all day from icy water drenching you.

The most remarkable thing about the place is that it had an unpretentious, welcoming feel to it. The server’s name was written on a chalkboard, and she was outgoing and friendly. I was allowed to use my own commuter cup for the coffee—10 cents off, just like the big guys at Starbucks(!)—and she considered my idea of having “senior coffee” (I like to ask about this because regular plain old coffee drinkers are practically being priced out of the market, and I find this offering almost as delightful as 10-cent Sambo’s coffee used to be. Alas, Sambo’s decline was inversely proportionate to PC’s rise: Little Black Sambo was determined to be a racist story, demeaning to the boy who offered his clothing up to the hungry tiger who wanted to eat him, even though he managed to get the envious tigers to chase each others’ tails around the tree, making tiger-butter out of them all. I always thought he was rather smart to save himself and get butter for his pancakes, but I guess I just don’t get it. Sambo’s the restaurant used the little boy on its sign, so fell along with the blacklisted kids’ book). I didn’t get my senior coffee, but I planted the seed. Prices were generally in line with most other independent shops.

Unfortunately, I have incomplete info. about the hours, etc., and even the fare, but I do know they make a yummy hot chocolate. And they have a down-home, wordy website that can answer logistical questions and more. This particular review is more of an “impression”, and, I now realize, is rather wordy itself!

Rating: 3.5 coffee beans (of 5), due to comfortable “vibes” (how’s that for impression?)