Today’s post is the third installment in my new series Discovering PDX, where I am documenting my experiences as a newcomer to the City of Roses.
My mission to find the perfect coffee shop in Portland continues. Today I find myself at the Stumptown Coffee Roasters on Belmont. Stumptown is legendary and has several locations in Portland as well as locations in Seattle, New York and Los Angeles. The coffee is amazing and is served at many fine establishments here in Portland. But as you know, I’m not a coffee drinker, but a tea drinker, and the perfect coffee shop is about more than just the quality of the coffee for me.
What it has going for it:
It took me less than 5 minutes to bike here this morning. Heck, I could easily have walked here. The location is excellent for me, and it’s on Belmont, which is a great street. I also love the huge bike rack corral in front.
Stumptown on Belmont isn’t particularly welcoming, perhaps because they figure they’re awesome, so they don’t have to try very hard to be welcoming, since people will come in anyway. It doesn’t sport a very big sign and the place itself is very small. The reason why this category is still in the “What it has going for it” section is because a little attitude isn’t the worst thing in the world, especially when it’s earned.
Did I mention this place is small? It couldn’t be more than 25 feet wide. And it’s often packed to the gills, so it’s kind of hard to find a spot to work, though there are a decent amount of outlets.
I love the design of Stumptown Belmont because it’s well done without trying too hard. It’s extremely simple, but well executed. Once again, this coffee shop is in a great building, and this time, they take advantage of it unlike Sound Grounds down the street. The designer of this coffee shop understood how to be minimal and to use the existing elements to great effect. For example, the exposed brick wall is very beautiful and sets the tone for the space.
The original and now worn wood floors also give the modern space a historic patina. But besides the brick wall and the wood floor, everything else is clean and modern. Exposed ducts that aren’t too self conscious, cool light fixtures and fans, and the simple and uniform furniture all create a clean, modern feel.
Notice that Stumptown on Belmont also has a bar at the window. But I’d be lucky to find a seat there as it is ALWAYS full!
One other thing that makes this space great are its dimensions – very long and narrow with very high ceilings. It packs people together, sort of the way dense cities pack people together, in a way that creates all sorts of possibilities for chance encounters.
Food & Drink:
As I mentioned, the coffee at Stumptown in unparalleled and super excellent. But since I’m a tea drinker, I order the dragon well green tea, which was just ok. This kind of makes sense, even though it’s a bummer for me, because the focus at Stumptown is on the coffee.
The vibe in here has a kind of a hard edge, which I like. It reminds me of Lux Coffeebar before it expanded and Cartel in Tempe before it expanded. With all the hard surfaces, it’s loud, and there is loud music to boot. Because it’s so small, it is constantly bustling with activity. It has the feeling of a pressure cooker, which is interesting and invigorating to me.
Why it’s not the perfect coffee shop for me:
I have to say Stumptown on Belmont is the closest I’ve come to the perfect coffee shop for me so far. But since it’s still early in the game, I will not declare it to be THE perfect coffee shop. It’s size does bring up the practical issue of finding a spot to sit and work and because of it’s pressure-cooker vibe, it would be hard to just come here to hang out for an extended period of time.
And so my search for the perfect coffee shop in Portland continues!
Tags: discovering pcx, searching for the perfect coffee shop in portland, stumptown belmont, stumptown coffee roasters