Monday, January 9, 2012

Ristretto Roasters Review & Comment

Ristretto Roaster’s newest location brightens a corner of the huge, renovated Schoolhouse Electric Building (pictured at bottom) in what, remains, industrial Portland. Graffiti-covered freight trains work on the adjacent tracks (not cute passenger trolleys), and men in dirty clothes work around the neighborhood. So, Ristretto Roasters and the furniture and lighting store provide a yupscale oasis in which guys can hang out with their laptops, and the wedding planners at the neighboring table could imagine a warm summer day in the middle of January.

The space features massive, old-growth beams above, brick walls, cement countertop, and wood floors.

The baristas dress nattily and are very knowledgeable. Mine explained to me why I like Central American coffees. It IS the bean and not just the roasting: less acidic and more flavorful than other beans. He took his time to set up the pour over, making sure it was dripping just so, and then he set the beaker to collect the liquid product. Yes, it’s a show, but a customer SHOULD get a show for a $2.50 cup of coffee, just as Huber’s gives a show for a $15.00 Spanish Coffee. The baristas set the coffee filter on a glass funnel, supported by a frame made from wood reclaimed during the renovation of the building. (See top picture). Glass makes sense for a lot of reasons, including cleaning the funnel and, who knows if I’m getting BPA from running hot water through my plastic funnel at home. The coffee was as good as it gets, and the scone complemented it well.

When the coffee tastes good and is served at a reasonable temperature, then one does not need to cool it down and cover it up with half & half and sugar. Yes, that comment is directed at you, Starbucks. As much as I wish I could enjoy a cup of coffee at my nearby Starbucks, I am consistently put off by coffee that is too hot to drink, and, when it is cool enough for human consumption, tastes like burnt toast.

There are several very good coffee shops in Portland, and Ristretto Roasters ranks among the best. To pick the best is like picking red over blue. Yet, in 2011, Zagat listed Ristretto Roasters as one of the “10 Coolest Independent Coffee Shops Across the U.S.”

Ristretto Roasters (NW Nicolai) on Urbanspoon

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