Archive for May, 2012

The Waypost

**Guest reviewer, since the creator of TrueBrew was out of town from May 15-30.**

The Waypost coffeehouse & tavern

3120 North Williams Ave.

Portland, OR

This is a casual establishment that seems to offer quite a bit of relief for visitors, such as an old-fashioned trading(way?)post did for pioneers. There is both a bar (serving alcohol, with or without coffee mixed in) and a variety of tables/chairs and easy chairs/couches. There is cool art on the wall (note: not for sale!) and Tibetan prayer flags in the entrance. There is a “stage” consisting of an oriental rug, a chair, 2 speakers and a mic. No one was playing while I was in there, however. They also host trivia nights and poetry readings.

During my visit, there was background music playing. Variety of songs and not too loud. The other people were very quiet, however, despite the music it still lacked the usual hum of an urban coffee shop. There is free wi-fi and everyone was obviously taking advantage of it, hard at work on their laptops. There is also a nook off the entrance with a few tables; a meeting place or extra quiet area, perhaps? Also at the entrance is a shelf with board games and books for customers to use while there, as well as a basket of comic books for sale–$1 each–from the local comic book store.

Fare: 12oz house coffee, $2. Happy hour is from 4-7pm and you receive $1 off drinks. 25 cents off for bringing own cup! They also serve food and their specialty appears to be pot pies.

Service and Clientele: Nice, fast service! Got my drink in no time. It wasn’t crowded, though, nor had happy hour started, so perhaps things could be different at a different time…

Bathroom: pretty standard for a coffee shop – unisex bathroom, clean, but also doubled as a storage closet.

Rating: 4 (of 5) coffee beans, because my drink was decent and the atmosphere was really casual and cool. (I would kind of like to go there again during “happy hour” to try a coffee-alcohol fusion drink…)

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Cafe Delirium

Cafe Delirium
308 Main Street
Gresham, OR

Delirious for some brew? If you are deep inside “Historic Gresham”, this is the place to go. The building is a new one trying to look old, or a rebuilt one that looks like a knockoff of an old one. Anyway, the coffee is fine, and the atmosphere offers enough variety to hold my attention. Besides lots of fancy coffee drinks, they supply milkshakes and smoothies, oatmeal, and some salad/soup/sandwich combos.  Despite these solid foods, the café seems just like a coffee house. Maybe that’s because the biggest coffee cup in the world—second to Disneyland’s twirling teacups, I suppose—held day-old products sold at a discount, and a coffee grinder was given a prime location.

Delirium was filled with people, from students to chess players to a businessman to, well, us. Filled too with seating possibilities, from couches to modern tables & chairs to bar stools along the window. We sat in easy chairs and used coasters on our antique table. The corner location gave the place ample space, so there was room for everything; they sold some things (such as Japanese lunch bags–yum!–and boxed contraptions), displayed colorful artwork under lights, and provided a bookshelf filled with books and games (yes, Scrabble was there, along with Sudoku books and games such as Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, Cranium, etc. No nerd games, however, except that there was a chess table–in my day, if you mentioned the word chess you were perceived as a nerd). A smaller room in the back offered some semi-privacy, and music entertained but wasn’t obnoxious. Aretha Franklin at one point.

Fare and Service: I ordered a small coffee ($1.50), and was sold-up to a 12-oz. by a fast-talker. He said he usually does this; the 8-oz. is just really small, even on a hot day. Perhaps they should rename the small to “extra small” to save him the breath so he could sell more of those so-called boxed contraptions; they’d probably be more lucrative for the store that 25-cent upgrades. I had a good day-old muffin, too. Had to see what soaking in that much coffee for so long would do…

Amenities: Besides the ordinary WIFI, Delirium offered a toaster and a microwave for its customers’ use, and off to the side was an old 50’s TV cabinet. The big question is, do they offer black-and-white TV (Maybe they should have Mad Men showings!)? Of course, next to the TV sat a student with a very thick medical textbook, supposedly studying. Some things never change

Bathrooms: Always pleasant to have M/F bathrooms. Ours had a 50’s-style changing table in it—from long before they invented Koala Bear (excuse me, Koala) handy tray-changers. (I’d know that stiff, scratchy, rippable plastic padding any time. Not that theirs was ripped or stiff or scratchy, but that just seemed to be the ultimate fate of those kinds of pads, kind of like rubber pants turning stiff from the dryer heat).  So the bathroom had the convenience for new moms, and it was clean and quite sufficient.

Rating: 4 (of 5) coffee beans, because in this case, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Stumptown Coffee

  

Stumptown Coffee
3356 Belmont St. PDX

A Portland kind of place. The quintessential Portland coffee house. Call it what you will, it speaks for us, from its “OCCUPY NARNIA” sign on the bulletin board to the “JESUS” graffitied onto the bathroom wall, to the halved dog biscuits, and on to the “real” coffee mugs used outside with no problem. The Hawthorne district is alternative, and so is Stumptown Coffee, down to its blaring music and spectacular bouquet of flowers gracing the countertop. Plus it had a cool, curved wooden counter.

Along Belmont is a small neon “coffee” sign; the place itself is identified best for pedestrians, not cars. I think they like walk-ins. There are several tables on the sidewalk along the red brick wall (for smokers and others), but most of the seating is at small tables in the back of the shop, except for window seats ath the front.. The latter have aluminum bar stools and “bar” footrests, and look out onto the busy street. A cordoned-off area in the street corrals the bikes for either coffee house or bar patrons, or both (But do we really want to encourage tipsy beer guzzlers to ride bikes, when 2-wheelers are in enough danger already?). Stumptown is simple and neat, with an old brick wall offering its ambience. It doesn’t really need excessive decor; the Stumptown name itself exudes classic prestige. Apparently this is not the original Stumptown Coffee; the first is on Division. But it’s old. They have postcards for the taking, one with Mt. Hood (and PDX) and one with a big rose (and PDX); they want to be Portland’s coffee! I am told that the brand, a tasty one, has become popular in other parts as well, and Stumptown has opened in Brooklyn (New York City!). Does Stumptown aspire to Starbucks level? We shall see…although it seems highly unlikely, since their car outside had a bumper sticker that said “make Portland weirder”. Mainstreaming Stumptown has a ways to go.

Fare: small coffee is a bit expensive ($1.75); refills for mugs are 50-cents. Lots of specialty drinks, juices, and waters are available, as are biscotti, rolls, etc.

Hours & Service: Who knows? Generally I forget to look…Open and pouring: that usually means OK service to me!

Bathroom: Not one but two handle bars, both covered with stickers and graffiti, just like the brick wall, which was covered in names. Entrance through a storeroom. Adequate facilities.

Rating: 3 coffee beans (of 5) Coffee was good, but place was a bit intimidating since you had to “walk the plank”—parade past the entire counter—to get to the back where the tables and bathroom were.

Toadally Coffee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toadally Coffee

1120 Royvonne Av. SE

Salem, OR

If you can see it and get to it, Toadally Coffee is a fine place for a cup of coffee.  But most travelers would miss it, since it is away from the freeway, on a busy street, and up a steep hill, across from the Quik Mart (I sound like a Berenstain Bear author, don’t I ?). It appears to be an expanded drive-by kiosk, and it still offers car service and outside seating, with both umbrellas and the longest awnings ever—down to about 3’ from the ground! Add the plexiglas shielding, and you feel toadally covered and protected from the elements outside! But the inside seating is pleasant, too.  A big, fat toad greets you, and the small spot seems larger because of high cathedral ceilings. The building is new, mostly glass and metal, and  is painted lime-green, orange, and brown:  toad colors.

The toad theme is well-developed, although, I must say, some of those toads look a lot like frogs. Piles of napkins are held down by small weights on arced wire; these resemble frogs on lilypads. For sale are frog T-shirts, Toadally commuter mugs (Can a frog really hoist one of these while hopping high?), and stuffed toads, frogs, snakes, and other related creature-items. Amphibia pictures complete the look.

Fare: 8 oz. for $1—just right!—with refills at a reduced price. They also have something on the menu called a “froggante”….I declined to try it.

Service and Clientele: Two older men were talking over coffee, and a third came in to get his freebie 32-oz. shake of some sort. Seemed like he had milkshake to spare—get out your tongues, frogs!! The hours certainly are good: 7-6 M-F, but closing an hour earlier on weekends. Even coffee people need some time off…

Bathroom: I expected a chameleon changing table, but got just a clean, simple place adorned with more frog paraphernalia.

Rating: 4 (of 5) coffee beans, because it was true to its toad, and new but pleasant.