Friday, March 4, 2011

Stumptown Coffee: Perfection

photo: I Need Coffee/Coffee Hero/Michael Allen Smith
by Joanie Ballard

I love coffee and I am always on the lookout for something enticing, surprising and deliciously aromatic. I have not been able to get Stumptown Coffee Roasters out of my mind since visiting their funky coffee shop on a trip to Portland, Oregon.

My visit to Stumptown was without a doubt the most engaging time I’ve ever had drinking coffee. This creative business employs hip, informed, artisanal, eco-minded, and wonderfully tattooed baristas who are seriously knowledgeable about the coffees they brew (see You Tube video at end of post and you’ll get the picture). The ambiance of the Portland location, the retro music, the eclectic mix of customers, the educated baristas, and the smell, taste and presentation of beautiful coffee—yes, beautiful coffee—is a special treat to the senses. By the way, it does not matter how long the line is as the baristas will take as long as needed to satisfy your every coffee desire—a refreshing company policy in this world of “fast” coffee, no?

I came home from that Portland trip and decided to subscribe to their coffee through the mail, especially one blend I tasted called “Tega & Tula”—a smooth Ethiopian blend that was out of this world. I enjoyed this blend for several months, but as Stumptown focuses heavily on the seasonality of their coffee beans, I discovered that this Ethiopian blend is not presently available. No worries. I just called them up and spoke immediately to an informed Stumptown employee about my likes and dislikes, and voila! I was able to order something just as good in a Latin varietal—Guatemala Finca Puerta Verde. Easy, quick, done, and I can’t wait to try it.

Fast forward: during a business trip to a NYC, I was overjoyed to find a newly opened Chelsea Stumptown Coffee Roasters on 29th & Broadway, which is connected to the Ace Hotel. This is a smaller and less funky version of the shop in Portland but no less noteworthy in service and taste. The Chelsea shop décor features a slim and high walnut coffee bar with a wildly wavy light fixture above. There are huge windows to gaze out at New York street life, big-band music playing over loud speakers, and very cool looking baristas in vintage vests, ties and hats—of course each barista knows everything about Stumptown roasts.

A New York Times critic, in a March review of the Chelsea shop, wrote: “With its travertine floors, walnut bar and natty staff, this is a striking setting for a cappuccino. The drink is up to the surroundings. Cold-brewed iced coffee tastes as bright and fruity as berries steeped in water, while a shot of espresso is so sweet and plush you’ll wish it lasted longer. Starting at $3.70, the mocha, made with Mast Brothers Chocolate, is one of New York’s most reasonably priced luxuries."

If you love coffee and want to adventure into something unique and satisfying, I highly recommend Stumptown Coffee Roasters.

Other Links of interest:
Ace Hotel
Breslin Resaurant
 Latte Art by Stumptown Baristas : You Tube

previously posted July 2010,

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