Today’s post is the fourth 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. Yesterday, I biked through this awesome street, Ankeny Avenue, and noticed Crema Coffee and Bakery out of the corner of my eye. My friend Luis Till had mentioned Crema as a place I should check out, so I promised myself that would be the next spot I try.
What it has going for it:
Crema is about a 10 minute bike ride away from my house, and a very pleasant ride it is through beautiful southeast neighborhood streets. It’s on Ankeny and SE 28th Avenue. Ankeny is a gorgeous street with some cool modern infill projects on it. With great restaurants and swank new housing, it’s a happening place. As in the other spots I’ve reviewed so far, I was pleased to find an array of bike racks out front.
Crema is large and spacious, with lots of glass and a great big counter, which makes it very accessible and welcoming.
Unlike at Stumptown on Belmont, it’s fairly easy to find a spot to sit and work, even when it’s busy, as it was this morning. Outlets are plentiful and there’s lots of room to spread out. I liked sitting on the bench in the back and working. Plus the wifi here is great.
Food & Drink:
I had good tea at Crema, supplied by the Tao of Tea, which is on my list to check out and review. But the tea is not what is going to bring me back here. What’s going to bring me back are the delicious baked goods. Not only do they have a wide selection of house-made yummy treats, but they offer some cool unusual stuff like chocolate espresso bread and dark chocolate, powdered sugar fault lines. Besides tea, I’m a big fan of desserts, and Crema is definitely winning in this category so far.
Why it’s not the perfect coffee shop for me:
Crema doesn’t have the advantage of being in a cool old building. Instead, it’s in an average contemporary building, which hurts the atmosphere. And unfortunately, the interior design of Crema doesn’t save it from mediocrity. As I mentioned before, Crema is large and spacious. But it’s actually too large and too spacious, making you feel lost in a big open space. This could easily be addressed by varying the ceiling heights and creating more intimate areas, but as it is, the uniform ±20 foot ceiling brings a Home Depot feel to the space, where one begins to feel small and insignificant in the space.
The most successful part of the design are the enormous windows which bring in great daylight – something that is precious in the overcast northwest.
And there are some other nice touches, like the wood wainscot on the back wall with the built-in wood bench. This, along with the nice wood counter and the wood trim on the columns (which could do without the traditional cap) bring warmth to an otherwise cold shell space. The blue behind the counter also lends to a nice warm feel as you walk in.
The vibe in here is pleasant, but nothing special. It’s a little bit to clean, too mass-produced and too safe to be compelling. It’s nice, but pretty average at the end of the day.
This is a new category in my reviews, but I had to add it because Crema struck me as way too white. When I was there this morning, there were only 2 people (including myself) out of around 50 people that weren’t white. So only about 4% were not white, where as in the general US population, more than 25% of the population is not white. Portland has a problem with ethnic diversity and it definitely shows at Crema.
While Crema performs only lukewarmly in terms of design and vibe and is not very diverse, they hit it out of the ballpark with their baked goods. And because I’m such a dessert fiend, I imagine I’ll be back for that reason alone. Plus this is an easy place to work, so I might be back to work here too, at the same time helping their ethnic diversity ratio.
But Crema does not make the cut for being the perfect coffee shop for me in Portland and so my search continues!Tags: ankeny and se 28th avenue, baked goods at crema, bike racks, coffee shop design in portland, crema coffee and bakery, ethnic diversity in portland, in search for the perfect coffee shop in portland, southeast portland