This post will be the last one with me going on about my trip to the Pacific Northwest. Of course, it’s probably also the most important because it’s the major reason I wanted to visit Oregon and Washington. The children think the Spring Break trip was planned with their pleasure in mind, and their desire to see the coast after living in land locked Colorado for so many years. And it was sort of…
Actually, I have always considered Seattle a place I wouldn’t mind living in; the rain, the dreariness, the cold and the damp all seemed like home after living in London! But I realised after spending 2 days in the rain, dreariness, cold and the damp, that I’m not that girl anymore. I missed my Colorado blue skies. Washington is beautiful, but if I had to move there, it would be by the rural areas and the mountains.
So, my real reason for going to Portland and Seattle? The coffee scene. I am an avid coffee drinker and enthusiast. I have been a coffee drinker for a long time; it’s what got me through my O Levels and A Levels, coffee and a tonne of toast.
My first experience with coffee was at school where at break time, we would all scurry down to the lunch hall for some biscuits and either coffee or orange squash. The term coffee is used very lightly here because the coffee was really half milk and half instant coffee. But goodness, was it delicious! For a young person, it had the right amount of coffee to milk ratio and was perfectly sweetened. I can still taste it. I drank that for pretty much 7 years and the last 4 years were free because I was a Prefect and we got coffee for free 🙂
As I got older, I spent more time trying out coffee drinks at all the local cafes around London. I think I had a cappuccino at all the local cafes around my school! Once I got into being a serious adult, I graduated from instant coffee to the brewed kind. Thanks to my dad and his various businesses, there was always a coffee pot brewing and I was right there, ready with cup in hand as it dripped through. In fact, when we had the restaurant, there wasn’t a pot that was brewed that I didn’t get a cup or two from. I was so addicted that I ended up getting quite sick from Gastritis, lost a bunch of weight and was bed ridden. Still, I bounced right back up and wanted more coffee, but in moderation.
As time went on, I got more and more disappointed at the coffee that was being served at coffee shops and especially Starbucks. I started ordering my coffee beans online, got myself a French press, and other coffee paraphernalia including a nice automatic espresso machine. I started experimenting and learning about coffee. My poor husband didn’t even drink coffee when we met, I soon changed that flaw!
So, Portland and Seattle have always been the centre of the coffee scene. That’s where it all started with Stumptown coming out of Portland and Starbucks from Seattle. Soon, lots of other coffee roasters came on the scene and this whole coffee culture was born (lucky for me).
I am a coffee snob and I’m proud of it. But, I am coffee lover who is willing to teach you about coffee and not the one who just looks down on your choice of Starbucks, well…maybe just a little.
I guess I want people who really like COFFEE, not the vent mocha, caramel, whipped cream whatever it is they call it drinks, but true coffee to go to these independent coffee roasters and coffee shops. These coffee guys know what they are talking about and are passionate about the process of choosing, roasting and serving perfect coffee. They want to teach you and help you find the coffee you find appealing. They source their beans from small independent farms from around the world and make sure these farmers are paid a fair price. Coffee is the second highest traded commodity in the world and everyday, coffee farmers are not paid a fair price for their hard work.
It is important to me to frequent small, local coffee roasters not only because that’s what we should be doing anyway, shopping local and small businesses, but because these guys know coffee. They have a passion for it, they source the best beans and roast them the way that enhances the each coffee’s individual flavour.
On my trip, I scouted out a few coffee roasters that would be near the hotel and also on the way to any place we were planning on going. Since the children would take a bit longer to get up and dressed, my husband and I were getting up early and hitting many of the coffee shops close to the hotel. We only stayed 2 days in Portland and one of those was spent in Tillamook County so we had one day to hit as many as we could. We did 3 in Portland. All of them are excellent. My standard was a cappuccino and I had that at all places just for comparison.
First up, Water Avenue Coffee : Excellent cappuccino, warehouse-y type location, beautiful and warm interior and most importantly, wonderful and approachable baristas. Many coffee places tend to forget that coffee is not just about the drink, it’s a culture, a community. Fellow coffee drinkers want a friendly face, someone who is willing to talk coffee and be able to tell you about the coffee they’re roasting and help you pick the flavour profile you like. The barista at Water Avenue was fantastic. I wish I had asked his name but he was incredibly gracious and answered my questions, helped me pick out a couple of bags of beans and told me about other coffee roasters I may like, all with a smile and a pleasant demeanour. That is a BIG plus in my book. This was my best experience at a coffee shop on my trip.
Next, Coava Coffee Roasters: These coffee shops are all around Portland. I guess they are kind of like Starbucks…but better… Waaay better. Our location was a nice quiet place, not hustling and bustling like so many, but we were also there quite early. It was the usual, chain type look; kind of generic. The baristas were pleasant and did help me pick out come coffee beans. We got two cappuccinos, some coffee beans and a…..Lemon Poppy Seed Bundtlet. They were really nice and gave us one of the coffees for free! But yes, the inspiration for today’s post is because of the bundtlet we had here. It was so good. Usually, I’m not a fan of the dry cakes and cookies at these coffee shops, rarely are they somewhat fantastic. So, imagine my surprise when my husband told me to try some because it was good. I almost ate all of it because it was that good; dense, moist and flavourful. It was way better than the coffee.
As for the coffee at Coava, it was not bad but like most chain type places, it seemed a bit on the weak side. Compared to the other two places, it was definitely my least favourite. Bundlet, however, EXCELLENT!!
Our last stop in Portland was at Heart Roasters: Heart roasters are quite well known in the coffee world, and it showed. The coffee shop was packed. They are located on a street with other restaurants and shops (right next door is a patisserie which we went to later that evening, but it’s kind of a strange place…) The coffee shop itself is the whole hip warehouse-y look. I liked it because it spoke “coffee” to me, but it was a lot busier there and there were more communal tables than tables as such. But that promotes conversation so I like that, my hubby, not so much. The cappuccino was excellent, had a wonderful distinct taste which is unique to the coffee and the roaster. The guys behind the counter were friendly despite being rushed off their feet. I espied a canele in their pastry case and asked for one to go along with my cappuccino.
My favourite coffee places in Portland ended up of being Water Avenue and Heart Roasters. They had the best coffee, friendly baristas and a nice vibe/atmosphere in their shops.
- 1½ cups/195g all purpose/plain flour, sifted
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons/220g butter, softened
- ¾ cup/195g sugar
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon Meyer lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ cup/60ml lemon juice (from 1 large Meyer lemon or regular lemon)
- 2 tablespoons milk
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 2-4 tablespoons sugar
- Equipment: 6 well Heritage Bundtlet Pan
- Preheat the oven to 375F/190C
- In a bowl, mix together the flour, poppy seeds, baking powder and salt.
- In the bowl of a mixer, add the softened butter and using the paddle, beat until fluffy.
- Add the sugar, lemon zest and vanilla, and beat until incorporated and fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally to ensure even mixing.
- Add half of the flour mixture and beat gently.
- Add the lemon juice.
- Add the remaining flour and mix gently and add the milk.
- Scrape down the sides.
- Mix well with a spatula to ensure everything is well blended.
- Spray the wells of the baking pan....REALLY WELL.
- I use non stick spray because it does the best job.
- Using a spoon or measuring cup, measure about ⅔ cup batter in each well.
- Add a bit of batter using a spoon and spread all around the well, into the curves and design of the bundtlet well.
- Do not overfill.
- Repeat till all the wells have been filled.
- Place the pan in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.
- After 25 minutes check to see if the top of the cakes are browning.
- You want them a nice golden brown.
- A light brown will make it hard for the cakes it come out of the pan intact.
- I made sure mine were a nice golden brown.
- Check with a tooth pick to see if they are done.
- It may take a total of 30-35 minutes until they are nicely brown.
- Take them out of the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, wiggle the cakes lightly to loosen them up.
- Place a rack over the pan and invert the pan.
- The cakes should fall out onto the rack.
- Put the rack on a baking sheet, put aside and make the syrup.
- In a small saucepan, add the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons sugar.
- Let the sugar dissolve completely.
- If the syrup is too tart for you, add the remaining sugar.
- I like mine a bit tart so I use only 2 tablespoons.
- Once the syrup is ready, brush each of the cakes with the warm syrup.
- Try drizzling into all the nooks and crannies of the bundtlet.
- Let the cakes sit for a bit and repeat the syrup brushing until all the syrup is used up.
- Takes about 3 or 4 brushings.
- You can let the cakes sit covered overnight to really enhance the flavour and let the syrup soak in, or you can eat them right away.
Seattle was the place I was most excited to try the coffee. After all, it was the place for coffee, the city that started it all. Was I satisfied with my coffee experience in Seattle? Read on.
Storyville: The cutest little coffee shop (not that little actually) on the second floor of the Pike Place Market buildings. Definitely a great place to escape the madness of the market and relax with some coffee and a variety of baked goods (all looked really good). Nice place, warm interior, long sofas, cosy armchairs and tall tables too. The baristas were very helpful and friendly especially nice since we had a large crew with multiple orders. They got them all right. Here I got a cortado and my hubby got a cappuccino. Both were excellent, as was the incredible sticky, sticky caramel bun my husband got.Lighthouse Roasters: This is a little neighbourhood coffee shop where they roast their own coffee in small batches. Coffee wasn’t bad, but the atmosphere was off, at least for me. I’m sure the neighbourhood regulars may disagree but the coffee roaster vibe wasn’t quite there for me. It seemed to me that it was just a business to the folks who own this roastery. I didn’t see much passion with the baristas. I bought a bag of Sumatra from here and will find out how they roast a single origin once I break into the bag. Seattle Coffee Works: I wasn’t impressed from the minute I walked in and waited at the “slow bar” to be ignored by the “know it all” barista on the other side. I then left and since the kids were wanting to shop at the shop next door, I decided to grab a coffee and sit down for a bit. The “know it all” barista came to help. Let’s just say, I wasn’t impressed with his attitude; the awful condescension some baristas tend to have. I know coffee but I’m always willing to learn more and pick the brains of people who do this as a living. He had made assumptions about me before I even walked up. I was not happy. Anyway, the coffee was good, but it wasn’t what I like. Their espresso blend is roasted lighter and has a bright flavour which I didn’t like. I’m a medium roast with sweet and heavy flavours. More than the coffee, the attitude of the barista is what I didn’t like. The place itself was small and not much seating. It’s right by Pike Place Market so it’s busy but I probably wouldn’t go back. I have a bag of coffee beans from there so I’m interested in trying it out soon. On our way out to go back home, we stopped at Zoka Coffee: This was by far the worst of the bunch. Bad, bad coffee, service was off, they got our orders wrong, and just overall a blah atmosphere. It’s a big place so quite a few groups hang out for meetings and such, but the coffee is just not good. Add the atmosphere and the shoddy service…yeah, I’m not going back again.
So, overall, Seattle was a very disappointing coffee stop for me. Granted, there are many I didn’t get to try and when we go again I will definitely search those out, but for my trip now and my visits to these ones, I wasn’t overly impressed by any of them, I’m happy with my Denver coffee scene, and won’t be leaving anytime soon to do a coffee tour!
I do have to mention the big surprise of the trip La Barba Coffee in Salt Lake City. I searched this out on our stop in Utah and they were fabulous! Great coffee, cute little shop; warm and elegant and really wonderful baristas. They were so so nice and took the time to talk to me and asked me about my trip. We talked about coffee and it was just nice to be excited about coffee with other coffee people! I loved La Barba and am excited about the Utah coffee scene. I’ll be keeping an eye on that.So I know this is a long coffee post and some of you prefer hot chocolate to coffee 🙂 but thank you for bearing with me and my passion! I am hoping that this helps some other coffee lovers out there.
These Bundtlets are in honour of the great one I had in Portland. They are really good and with the syrup, they stay moist and flavourful.
Hope your week is off to a great start. I have a really busy week ahead for me but I promise to swing by and read everyone’s posts by the end of the week.
Have a good one!