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Brew Time!

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True Brew Coffee House Review will be “OFF” for the summer months (That’s it; no new reviews). Last summer I dutifully tried to keep doing it by chugging iced coffee (or turning beet-red from downing the piping hot stuff!), but not so this time.  Decided I don’t really care for the iced stuff, even when presented in a “frappucino” form.   When it’s chilly out, or I travel, I will undoubtedly visit the local coffee house, and I’ll thus get a nice fat backlog of reviews, but I won’t be posting.  See you in September!

Contrary coffeehouse

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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

Coffee Party USA

The relatively new Coffee Party USA has positioned itself  to be the Democratic equivalent of the Tea Party.  Join the klatch! The elections need you!  I’ll be reposting some of the Coffee Party’s images from time to time, for caffeine’s sake.

Java Joe’s

Java Joe’s
“down by the station”
Princeton, IL

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jump off the Zephyr that rolls from Chicago to San Francisco, and you may land in the small town of Princeton Illinois. Need some java? Mosey over to Java Joe’s, half a block from the train depot. If ever there was a startling mix of the old and the new, it is in this coffee shop. Nope, they don’t serve day-old coffee and stale biscuits. But the place! It used to be a rural/small-town hardware store, and if you squint enough to cut out the glare (of contemporary sale items), it still looks like the 1900’s. The original stamped-metal ceiling is intact, the nail storage bins and old boxes still grace the old wooden shelves, and the sliding ladders remain, still used, hanging from their tracks on the ceiling. The door, its layers of paint slathered on over the years, and probably the ceiling schoolhouse lights and fans as well, are original. A lovely stained-glass window lets in a modest amount of light, but new-fangled LED or Christmas lights brighten the roomful of merchandise. Zoom into the merchandise alone, and you’d think you were in Kitchen Kaboodles or Happy Chef or some other big-city specialty store, with lots you want but most of which you already have in older, less colorful or cleverly-presented versions (a scrub brush without the giraffe spots and tall neck with ears on it, for example). The satisfying thing about Java Joe’s—and its host shop Beetz Me—is that they didn’t gut the place when they brought in the new stuff: how nice it is to preserve old beauty! The sheer quantity of stuff for sale, along with the many “bric-a-brac” decorations, makes it seem a bit overdone, but, fortunately, the genuine antique structure holds its own and makes the place worth a visit, even if you’re short on souvenir spending money.

Fare:   My coffee was $1.75, and they served the typical coffee drinks, including lattes and mochas. Also, because it is nearly summer,  iced everything. And some sweets, including candies.

Service and clientele: Two women cared for the entire store, but the coffee section had a separate name. They spent most of the time I was in there chit-chatting with another customer, but I was served promptly. No one else was in the coffee section: to see more locals, maybe I should have come at 6 a.m. when the roosters wake the farmers! I believe the place really wants to attract the Chicago(ite) who has strayed from home, or the tourist traveling I-80 west (hence the mass of stuff for sale), though, not the practical farmer.

Rating: 2 (of 5 coffee beans). Fun for window shopping and history-viewing, but coffee aspect was run-of-the-mill.

Google offer for 4/4/12: Starbucks

Today only!

Because I haven’t been able to visit any coffee houses recently, I instead am sharing with you a deal: $5 for $10 worth of coffee at Starbucks. Also, Google donates $3 towards Create Jobs for USA Fund for each card. And below, I have provided you with an undeniable  reason why we all should drink more coffee, even the fancy-box type (Starbucks).

Google Offer: Starbucks edition!

 

Here’s the undeniable reason: Coffee Prevents Diabetes?!

All for now. Enjoy getting caffeinated, guilt-free!