Sunday, November 1, 2020

New Normal: A week of cafes during a pandemic

Before this week, I hadn’t been to a new café in over a year. 

Before having a baby, I would regularly scout out which new cafes had opened in the city and would check them out for my extensive café catalogue. 

However, by 2019 things got busy with work, the baby became a toddler, I was no longer working in cafes, and I was just too busy to drive to the other side of town to check out a café. 

I put the hobby on hold. 

But then the pandemic happened, and suddenly I wasn’t so in love with my home office anymore. 

I missed cafes. I missed lattes poured by professional baristas, I missed the vibes, I missed seeing other people. 

But the problem was that everything was closed…or so I thought. 

Apparently, while I was busy building a business and raising a kid, a lot of new cafes opened in Portland. So many that I had to make a list! And to my great surprise, they were open! 

So I cleared my calendar for the last week of September and made a point to visit one new café a day. 

Keeper Coffee

Keeper was the first café I visited because I heard that had seating and were actually allowing people to sit. This café was located mere blocks from where I used to work. Inside it doubles as a shop and has about 4 bar counter seats (spaced 6 ft apart) and 3 small tables outside. 

I ordered a latte and drank from a ceramic cup – for the first time in 6 months! I also ordered the lavender loaf and ate it there. 

Ardent Coffee 

I was looking forward to Ardent as it was getting a lot of hype online. This café is a nonprofit, where all proceeds go toward ending human slavery, and the baristas are volunteers. The café is located near Reed College and will surely be packed once on-campus courses resume. My latte was really excellent and the vibes were great. A few things about this café make it really unique compared to other cafes in Portland:

It has indoor and outdoor seating

It has parking…in a parking lot!

It has a garden area that feels like a private terrace. 

Lovely Rita

Lovely Rita is located in the lobby of the Hoxton Hotel. I love hotel lobbies and I love cafes, so it stands to reason that I would love lobbies with cafes and cafes in lobbies. I ordered a Flat White - still hard to find in this city. I love the vide of the cafe and the spacious lobby. I hope to be back again soon. 

Café Rowan

Also located in the Reed College area, Café Rowan took over the location of an old Starbucks that closed (thank goodness). The café doesn’t just serve coffee but also avocado toast and chia bowl. The plating and favor of the avocado toast was excellent. In a city where nearly every cafe has avocado toast, their offering was very original. This is definitely a welcome replacement for that old and dated Starbucks that used to occupy the space.

The Coffee Shop

Beaverton has really gotten a lot hipper since the days when I would frequent one of it’s only cool cafes – Insomnia (some 5 years ago). The Coffee Shop is a new edition that aims to bring a bit of the third wave coffee scene to the suburbs. While seated was limited and I had to get my coffee to go, I appreciate this little and it was clearly very popular with the neighborhood. 

The Bakery at Bar King

By night, this location is Bar King, an Asian-fusion restaurant. By day, it is The Bakery. I ordered a latte and 4 very original baked goods: a Gruyere Togarashi Brioche, a Miso Chocolate Chip Cookie, a Kimchi Egg Muffin, and a Matcha Almond Cake. I loved the ample outdoor seating in a quiet ally off of very busy Morrison street. 

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