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Contrary Coffee

1876 SW 5th Av

Portland, OR

It looked like a cozy hole-in-the-wall, especially in the darkness of early evening. Yes, it was small, that Contrary Coffee. But it didn’t feel really cozy to read “If you don’t like {something} get the f**k out.” It was an oddball place, on 6th and across from PSU. Yup, that helps explain it. College kids express themselves in a strong way, so shops catering mainly (entirely?) to college kids must do the same. Contrary Coffee embraced oddness in its soul, and I have since been led to understand that the owners can be very contrary, hard-to-deal-with, or downright unpleasant (hence the “get the f**k out!”). That, of course, is hearsay, and any bonafide reviewer does not rely on hearsay. What I actually observed, besides the message to “get… out”, was this: my companion and I were the only ones in the place, and after we got our stuff, the guy said to me, “you’re in charge”. He then went outside for quite a while, as we sat there drinking our coffee. What did he do out there? Leave? Smoke? Have a private conversation?  He also knocked 50-cents off a cookie, since we couldn’t scrounge together enough for it. Wouldn’t say he was unpleasant to me at all, just a bit weird. Maybe has an attitude. But this is Portland.

The other reason for “not cozy” was the décor. Black or dark and strong colors predominated, with lots of loud or otherwise-provoking paintings, which looked like students’ works. One was of two women connected by their braided hair.  Ravens were popular, and a colorful mural (ravens over an orange and gray and black metropolis) perked up the wall behind the counter. A small bird skull was on another wall, and ravens adorned a table. Seating was limited but comfortable enough, but it all seemed drab, as if it had been left out for the birds years ago. There were black couches and a few dark wood tables and chairs.

Fare: good, modestly-priced coffee. Good cookies. Honestly don’t know what else they have, and you can bet I’m not going back to find out. Mochas and the usual.

Bathroom:  Good color. A picture of the bathroom with a picture of the bathroom with a pic…..get it? Very deep for a plumbing paradise, but It’s been done before.

Service and clientele:  One can mostly just speculate. No other customers, and “barista” was outside during most of our visit. We found the service OK otherwise.

Rating:  2 (of 5 coffee beans).  Not a comfortable place for somebody older (and saner?), and I no longer cringe at accumulations of birds, except when the place tries to pass as Hitchcock-esque.

2 coffee beans