Stumptown Coffee in Portland

After a riveting jaunt through Seattle, Chris and Erik found themselves enjoying a celebration of their country’s independence outside of Portland, Oregon. The following morning it was only natural to review yet another coffeehouse, given the massive quantities of brownies, cobblers, cookies, and cakes devoured the previous night. Lo and behold, the original location of the Pacific Northwest coffee powerhouse Stumptown Coffee Roasters was just down the street.

The drink of choice this fine morning was the Americano, fitting given the patriotism we were all feeling from watching slightly drunk suburbanites light fireworks the prior day. Now the first thing to note when talking about an Americano is how the drink got its name. Legend has it that during World War II the American soliders stationed in Europe poured hot water over their espressos to create a drink more similar to the drip coffee they drank at home. Here’s how we imagine it went down (reference this scene from Inglorious Basterds for inspiration):

  • Barista: “Your café, señor.”
  • American: “What the sh*t is this?! I ordered a goddamn coffee!”
  • Barista: “An espresso, sir, made from the finest beans roasted in the genuine Italian style.”
  • American: “Well f*ck a duck. Fetch me some hot water then, I’m a make me some real American-style coffee.”
  • Barista: (under his breath) “Americanos…”

Okay down to business…

The coffeeshop: Stumptown Coffee Roasters on Division Street in Portland, OR

The coffee: Hair Bender Espresso Blend, the multi-region blend that Stumptown features most prominently in their espresso drinks

What Chris thought…

A solid Americano to be sure! I appreciated that the barista poured the hot water into the cup first, let it cool slightly, then added the espresso after. My only reservation was getting the coffee to-go because the cardboard cup absorbs some of the flavor as compared to drinking coffee from a ceramic mug. Ultimately, however, I really enjoyed the notes of chocolate and fruit in this blend.

And Erik’s take…

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This is my first time drinking an Americano. And wouldn’t you know, it’s also my last time drinking an Americano. The Americano gets negative points for tasting exactly like your average cuppa joe and compounds the problem by taking as long to drink as your typical mugga java. At least espresso has the decency to cram itself into a Prince-Toddy’s-First-Tea-Party-style vessel.

Drinking the Hair Bender blend brought to mind Avatar: The Last Airbender; not because of the rhyme shared by the beans and the film, but because I imagine the Hair Bender is what might result if M. Night Shyamalan devoted his energies to creating a coffee. To give you some idea, my first sip tasted like a burnt Totino’s pizza roll (ah! youth), and ensuing draughts brought diminishing returns.

In summary, I would rewrite the la-di-da description of the Hair Bender as follows: “This complex sweet and savory coffee blend yields flavors of milk chocolate, caramel, jasmine, Meyer lemon, apricot, and pineapple coffee.”

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Temple Coffee in Sacramento

In the life of every great blog there comes a point when something revolutionary, something monumental must occur: the first post. Although Chris and Erik have been on tour for almost an entire month already, they have simply been too distracted playing basketball, making music, and driving a van to come together to enjoy a cup of coffee. Well, fortunately for you, the audience, today afforded Chris and Erik the opportunity to do just that: sit down, relax, and drink an espresso.

For the uninitiated, an espresso is simply a concentrated shot of coffee. If analogies are your thing, then espresso is to coffee as liquor is to beer. Refer to this fantastic Wikipedia article for more information about coffee beverages. Without further ado, enter Chris and Erik…

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The coffeeshop: Temple Coffee on S Street in Sacramento, CA

The coffee: Dharma Espresso Blend, a blend of Brazilian, Guatemalan, and Ethiopian beans used as Temple’s go-to espresso

Chris’s take…

Delicious! Beautiful crema on top, and a rich, deep, dark color throughout. More nutty and chocolate flavors than floral, which better suits my tastes. This was my second espresso of the morning, and it was the better cup by far.

Erik’s thoughts… (or, “The Worst Birthday Present”)

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Chris got me a cup of Dharma Espresso Blend for my birthday. I may forgive him someday. Apparently this blend received a 91 out of 100 from Coffee Review. I can only imagine the review went something like this:

  • Sourness: 20/20. Wow! It’s like drinking whatever they coat WarHeads with. Definitely nails that pH-level-of-gastric-acid taste that is so en vogue.
  • Bitterness: 20/20. Very impressive! Had me making the same face that I made when I had Robitussin for the first time.
  • Negative Good Smell to Good Taste Ratio: 25/20. Bonus points! With notes of chocolate, raspberries, and eau de toilette, Dharma really sets the stage for disappointment.
  • X-factor: 20/20. The Dharma Espresso Blend really is everything that coffee strives to be.
  • Taste: 6/20. Does not taste very good.

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