If you know me, you know that I enjoy my coffee. For me, at least, nothing kills the “why does work start before noon” or the “why did I eat so much at lunch” blues like a piping hot cup of the good stuff. But from my time working (and living) in dorm rooms, warehouses, and an ad agency, the cup of Joe I had become familiar with was little more than a flavorless caffeine conduit, from some sad, seldom-cleaned Mr. Coffee drip. Recently, I tried to dress it up with newer espresso presses, and an ever-changing lineup of new (and more and more expensive) beans, but it was still the same old, same old, just a quick pick-me-up.
And then, a little over a week ago, I saw the light – literally and figuratively – from a barstool in a small, well lit coffee shop in Portland’s East Bayside neighborhood. At Tandem Coffee Roasters, owners Will and Kathleen Pratt have set up something special. Taking years of passion and experience in the realm of all things coffee (and some pretty handy carpentry and vision), they’ve turned a small building into an excellent coffee haven, roasting in-house, and serving from the clean, minimal cafe in the next room.
Here, coffee and good conversation is king. Typically, when I think coffee shop, I think free-wifi co-working space with somewhat better-than-average coffee, a staff that just wants you out of their hair, and some stale tracks being piped in as background noise. At Tandem, however, I wouldn’t want to take my laptop, because after enjoying a great conversation with Will and Kathleen, listening to the handpicked vinyl, and having a mind-blowingly awesome cup of coffee, it just wouldn’t seem right to be working checking facebook.
The coffee I enjoyed that day was the Kenyan Yara AA – described by Will as “surprisingly tangy” and possibly the first coffee I’ve ever tasted that I consciously thought, “wow, this is legitimately a pleasantly flavorful drink”. I was hooked, and I took a bag home that day. The same blend is available on their site, but you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t drop by and let them suggest a cup for you – do it, you won’t regret the decision.