Showing posts with label coffee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label coffee. Show all posts

Sunday, October 27, 2013

coffeeneuring challenge 2013, # 7: peet's coffee, downtown pdx

So this may or may not meet all the rules, but I am two weeks away from recording my album in the studio and decided I'd try to get these done before the weather turned any colder or wetter. So while my day began with teaching, it ended with a concert and a hot beverage and that's good enough for me.

To be fair, Portland has had an amazing start to autumn, with bright, sunny days and highs in the upper 60s for over two weeks now. But today, the rain finally showed up. I rode to Hebrew school in a light mist that evolved into a drizzle by the time I got to temple. After class, I rode up to the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall (affectionately known in Portland as The Schnitz) to meet Sweetie for an afternoon concert by the Oregon Symphony. I had slept poorly and hoped that the Shostakovich 10th Symphony would keep me awake and interested. (Just in case, I grabbed a quick cup of something vaguely resembling coffee from the kitchen before I left temple.)

The concert was very enjoyable. (Disclaimer -- we get occasional free tickets as a perk of Sweetie's job. She's the annotator for the Symphony, which means that she's the one who researches and writes all the notes in the concert booklets. Yes, that's a real job.)

Afterwards, I rode over to Peet's downtown location to meet up with a friend for a quick cup of sonething warm. Since I'd had enough caffeine for the day, I opted for coffee cake and a -- sit down -- pumpkin steamer.

It was delicious.

I made my way home in the early evening. The rain had stopped before the concert, and the clouds parted to reveal brilliant light cutting low across the sky. In northeast Portland, I was stunned by an almost blinding goldenrod color in the distance; it turned out to be one of the few trees that still had most of its leaves.

Finally, I stopped at the bottom of the hill near my house, turned and looked behind me toward the west. The sun was streaming through a patch of fast-moving clouds, and I snapped a photo just before the sun sank behind the house.

A good end to my official coffeeneuring adventures for 2013.
Temperatures are scheduled to fall into the 30's by mid-week, and many of the remaining leaves will end up on the ground, turning Fall into Fell. A lovely season.
Total: 10.7 miles.

Monday, October 21, 2013

coffeeneuring challenge 2013, #6: jazzkats/nectar

I had business at Velo Cult on my day off -- meeting with a framebuilder who rents space inside Sky's cavernous space -- and wanted some coffee. I took a multi-modal route to the Hollywood neighborhood, using a combination of bicycling and public transit. The coffee shop known as JazzKats was right around the corner, and I decided to make a coffeeneuring trip out of it.  JazzKats also wasn't on my list last year so I'd finally hit up another new coffee stop (Grindhouse, # 1, was the first non-repeat from last year).

JazzKats had closed for a time last year when the owner was seriously injured in a bad collision. Then, this spring, the shop re-opened under new ownership, but had kept the name. I went in, and the one thing that had changed right away was that there were no longer air pots near the counter. Regular coffee is now being made to order in the pour-over, single-serving method. Also, most of the original decor was gone, and all of the baked goods were now either vegan, gluten-free, organic or some combination thereof.

While waiting for my coffee, I learned from the girl behind the counter that the shop was changing its name to Nectar, and was now roasting beans on-site. Signage was in the process of being made. For now, the old JazzKats sign still hung in the window. 

I sprang for a cup of the pour-over House Blend, and it tasted fresh and pleasantly mellow. I skipped the baked goods, and went over to Velo Cult to conduct my business -- having Joshua Bryant braze on eyelets so I could mount another bottle cage on the Sekai. It took about half an hour, and I got to sit at a counter with my coffee and watch the work through a window.

When he was done, I paid Joshua, rode home, cleaned off the rest of the flux and re-painted the bare spots on the frame with a paint-pen. Since I built this bike on the cheap, I don't need it to be a show-piece, so I'm not worried about matching the color or anything.

The ride home was warm and sunny -- October continues to be unseasonably warm and dry, with temps in the high 60s during the day. I rode home in a t-shirt and knickers and loved it.
Total 7.5 miles.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

coffeeneuring challenge 2013, # 5: velo cult

It had to happen. I had hoped to try out a coffee shop that would be new for this year's challenge, but it didn't happen today. I had something to exchange at Velo Cult and it was a beautiful day, bright and sunny; so I took a neighborhood route that has become what I call my Velo Cult Loop. Below: checking my rear view on NE Going Street, a city-designated Bicycle Boulevard.


Below: fall colors at NE 38th and Fremont, Alameda neighborhood. It's not New England, because half of our trees are evergreen; but it's still really pretty.

Velo Cult does not offer cream of sugar with their pour-over coffee.

If you visit, try it black before you complain.
It's actually very, very good; and if you still need something sweet bring along a fresh pastry from somewhere (Velo Cult does not serve food).

At the right time of day, you won't need the pastry.

Below: Sometimes I still miss wrenching for a living. But only sometimes.

When I visit Velo Cult, I always consult the shop's Magic 8-Ball.
It works.

Velo Cult is open seven days a week, 10am to 10pm. It is the coolest anti-shop in Portland and I'm not sorry I went here again for this year's challenge.

I looped back around and rode home along tree-lined residential streets boasting brilliant red, orange and gold. Total: 10.4 miles. More pictures at

Sunday, October 13, 2013

coffeeneuring challenge 2013, # 4: arbor lodge

I had planned to gather together some friends for this one and even set up a Facebook invite. A few responded. Sadly, when the day came, no one else showed up. I assumed the racier types were all out in Rainier for the Cross Crusade race. Still, I was undeterred from having a nice ride.

I began at Arbor Lodge, at the corner of N. Rosa Parks and N. Interstate. (To clarify for purposes of the Challenge: Arbor Lodge is almost two miles from where I live so it qualifies.) These guys do very nice things with LOCAL pour-over and drip coffees! They also offer a selection of tasty pastries, cookies and light savory fare like bagels; and I learned today that they rent out the space after-hours for special events. (This could be a possible spot for my album release party in December...)

The air was cool, even a little cold; it had been in the mid-40's when I'd left the house and had yet to warm up to 50. I was prepared with thin layers of wool, including thin wool tights under my knickers, and toasty wool socks and gloves.
I also wore a thin wool earband over my cap (under my helmet). I could strip layers as I needed to, though I wound up not removing any for the entire ride.

From Arbor Lodge I rode along Interstate Avenue, taking the top deck of the Steel Bridge into downtown Portland.

On Interstate Avenue heading towards the Rose Quarter. The Broadway Bridge is in the background.

When I got downtown, I headed over to Saturday Market, Portland's craft marketplace that's been in operation since only a couple of years before I moved here in 1975. This summer, a friend gave me a beautiful pair of earrings, not knowing that I my ears were pretty much committed to piercings. But I loved them and wanted to find a way to wear them. So today, my goal was to see about having a jeweler convert one of the earrings into the centerpiece of a simple silver bracelet, and having a jump-ring installed on the other so I could wear it on a chain. I found what I was looking for on both counts.

Saturday Market is also known for some great cart-food, and it was basically impossible to resist when I walked past the perogie cart.

(Not kosher. Not vegan. Not worried.)

From there, I headed home, riding up NW Broadway to the Broadway Bridge, stopping along the way to take an evidence photo.

At left: the Steel Bridge, as seen from the Broadway Bridge. If you look very closely to the right side of the photo, you can just make out the little operator's tower of the Burnside Bridge behind it, in the background. Portland has 12 bridges spanning the Willamette River and each of them has its own look and history.

From there I made my way over to Northeast Williams Avenue and headed home. This was a little before noon, and as I turned onto Williams the sun began to burn through the clouds, and things warmed up quickly after that. Below: Pizza-a-go-go. The pizza's not bad; sadly, the waitrons do not serve it clad in knee-high go-go boots.

Northeast Portland has lots of little alleyways like this, some running all the way down to the Columbia Slough. This one goes all the way to Dekum (when a van isn't blocking the way...).

I love alleys like this, and other places of funky-ness that haven't yet been over-developed. I hope Portland will always have places like this in it.

Another lovely fall ride with beautiful colors and delicious cool air.  Total 11.7 miles.

More pictures from the ride can be found here:

Saturday, October 12, 2013

coffeeneuring challenge 2013, #3: aj java

This ride felt obligatory at first, owing to the fact that I was tired and a little crampy and not feeling inspired to ride. But as I got farther from the house I felt more like riding, and the weather cooperated by not raining at all even though showers had been forecast.

I made my coffee stop early on, because frankly I needed a shot of caffeine. I'd heard AJ Java (conrer of NE Albina and Rosa Parks) was now roasting on the premises, and I wanted to sample the brew.

The cafe shares a very old, somewhat decrepit building with an auto body shop. But don't let the aesthetics fool you. The coffee is good.

I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the house blend. Rich without being overpowering, and at 2 pm on a Saturday afternoon I enjoyed an obviously fresh cup even though they'd close in an hour. I'd recommend it and I will add it to my list of coffee shops that roast on-site with good results. Go there.

Catching up on the headlines while finishing my coffee, I was able to confirm that my beloved PSU Vikings still suck at football.
(As it was and ever shall be, world without end, amen...)

From there I took a long, leisurely loop from Northeast Portland all the way down to River City Bicycles (to order a small part I knew I could get there, and because I now felt like taking a longer ride).

A few more photos from the loop:

This bulletin board at River City Bicycles made my ride. I maintain that there is a very special place in the universe for unrepentant bicycle thieves, and I don't ever want to see it...

The rest of the set from today's ride can be found here:

(scroll down to photos labeled "# 3")

A lovely ride. Total 8.7 miles.

Monday, October 7, 2013

coffeeneuring 2013 edition # 2: peet's coffee, 15th & broadway

This one was sort of obligatory, in that I had to meet someone over coffee and had to select a logistically sensible choice for both of us. I visited Peet's at NE 15th and Broadway last year during the Challenge, and while I didn't really want to include it again this year, I was sort of stuck with it. So this year I ordered something a little different and, well, way foofier: a pumpkin au lait.
The coffee was a little strong, but the flavoring was pretty well balanced against the coffee. I ordered mine with non-fat milk and no whipped cream; if you go all-out fattening you'll have a different experience than I did. Still, it wasn't half bad.

I met my sister there to have, well, "sister time". We try to squeeze this in whenever we can; because we both live in the same city we tend not to make it regular, but it is always good when we get together. We catch up on all sorts of stuff, laugh and joke together; and then my sister usually impresses the hell out of me with her vast storehouse of world-life knowledge. She is one of the smartest people in the world.

Knowing that I'd probably spend the next two hours on my ass in a hard wooden chair, I elected to ride as briskly as possible to the coffee shop.

It turned out that she thought we were meeting an hour later than we'd originally planned, so I wound up waiting almost an hour before she got there. No worries. I spent three hours on my ass in a hard wooden chair but had a great time hanging out with my big sister.

When I went outside to ride home, the temperature had dropped by more than ten degrees. There were rain clouds in the distance, and the breeze was blowing them in my general direction. Suddenly my wool sweater wasn't warm enough to ride home at a leisurely pace. So I ripped my legs off and sped up 14th Avenue all the way. Once my heart and lungs got used to the idea, they  caught up with my legs and it felt really good to kill myself a little on my bike. By the time I was about a mile from home I was almost warm enough.

Photos of the shop, the atmosphere, and how I spent my first hour (people-watching, sipping my au lait and looking at bicycle porn online).

Evidence: yes, that IS my bike locked up outside.

Nice ride there and home again, total of 6.1 miles.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

coffeeneuring 2013 edition # 1: grindhouse coffee

Today, feeling stressed about a situation that will take some time to work itself out, I was at loose ends. Sweetie urged me to go for a long bicycle ride. It was a beautiful day, nearly 70 degrees and sunny. The trees were beginning to turn from green to gold, and there was a bright blue, cloudless sky. So I puttered on my bike of choice for a few minutes and then took off.

Since today was also a day off, I decided to visit the first stop on my Coffeeneuring Challenge:
Grindhouse Coffee on N. Rosa Parks.

Grindhouse was built a couple of years ago in what is essentially a large, funky shed with corrugated tin and recycled house parts (windows, doors, etc). I ordered a house coffee, which was fine but not breathtakingly awesome; and rode on to continue a loop around Northeast and North Portland.

I made a decent-sized loop, stopping in at North Portland Bikeworks (where I was pleasantly surprised to find some former bike industry colleagues and other bike buddies working there). Then I moved on, enjoying a loop through Overlook and back around along Killingsworth. I rode up to Killingsworth and Williams Avenue, where I discovered that Cascade Cycles was no more. The store was empty and it looked like it was being remodeled. I'd visited the shop a few months back and saw a half-empty store, a business on the way down.  Sad.

I continued on, looping around and back towards the house. It was a gorgeous day, and I enjoyed the feel of the sun on my back, and a slight breeze that kept me from overheating if I pedaled more briskly.

Finally, I turned onto the long diagonal street that would roll downhill and spit me out near my house. And there was my favorite tree on he block, a tree I think of as the harbinger tree because it turns the brightest, most amazing colors every fall.


Total distance: 9.4 miles.

Monday, September 30, 2013

third annual coffeenuering challenge begins this weekend (Oct 4)

The Coffeeneuring Challenge returns for a third year of cycling and caffeine fun!

Rules are here:

Portland was reasonably- well-represented last year, and the organizer is looking for a bump in numbers (though, to be fair, she's from Washington DC and wants more folks from her fair city to participate).

I enjoyed taking on the challenge last year and wear my coffeeneuring badge with pride.
I'm organizing a group ride the second weekend for local bikey buddies; and with seven weekends available in which to ride to seven difference coffee shops (or farmers' markets, or campsites where you brew your own -- new for this year), I will have myself a grand time.

Already on my list of shops to visit this year:

Arbor Lodge
Random Order
Velo Cult
Portland Farmers' Market
Nossa Familia Espresso Bar
World Cup

I'm looking for a few new places to check out this year. I certainly won't limit myself to seven coffee stops; Portland is coffee heaven and has so many shops to choose from that I may just overload.
NOTE: Bonus points if they offer stickers, as I am trying to amass a collection of a sticker from each place to send to the organizer as a bribe souvenir.

My first ride will be next Friday, October 5. If you're in Portland and want in on the group ride on the 13th, message me.
Happy riding and imbibing!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

everybody needs a place to go and just be

I have been dealing with a huge ball of stress that's been sitting in my belly for over two weeks now.
(It's my own damned fault, and it will take me awhile to climb out of the very deep hole I've dug for myself.)

Meanwhile, there's the bike. And I finally had time and energy to ride again this week.

I haven't ridden as much or as far over the past several months, because this summer I've been away more than I've been home with all the music and teaching stuff. I came home this past weekend from what I think will be my last outta-town gig for several months at least, and today I finally went for a bike ride. Nothing spectacular or ambitious, mind you; just a neighborhood spin that took me to a consignment shop (to sell, not buy) and then to Velo Cult for an hour or so before heading back home.

Velo Cult has become my bicycle hangout. When I need to be in a bike shop these days, I ride over to Velo Cult, buy fresh pour-over coffee or a pint of cider, and sit at the long table in the center of the cavernous room. The table was made from either a bowling alley or a shuffleboard corridor, I don't know which. It's huge, and from a seat facing north I can watch the mechanics working on bikes (the benches are fully visible, with only a short table/bench in front of each one). If I have lots of time and some cash, I might walk over to the local burger bar or the nearby pub for something to eat (I get it to go and bring back to Velo Cult, which the owner encourages; he keeps the pub's menu on the counter of his bar). If folks come in, I can chat, or not; if I don't feel like chatting I can read a magazine or check my messages (if I've brought something electronic with me). 


There's usually a healthy stack of bike-related magazines in a rack near the front door. Today, I brought a good-sized pile of Car Busters magazines and a couple of old bicycle manuals I no longer need and gifted them to the shop. Reading material cycles through this place, and if a month from now someone has taken a few of the magazines away, that's fine by me.

While I could have my pick of some sixty (!) bicycle shops in the Portland area to choose from, and there are certainly a few shops that are closer to my house, Velo Cult has become, hands down, my go-to place. It's pretty simple really. I spent close to twenty years of my life working in a bicycle shop. I may have burned out on the politics and everything that went with them; but I enjoyed the work most of the time and I still love the elegant machinery.

So, when I need to touch base with a familiar part of myself in an undemanding environment, I go to Velo Cult, a place whose owner and staff have welcomed me with open arms, a friendly smile and almost no questions. Today, I was very glad to ride over there and hang out for a pretty blessed hour of respite from my stress. When I left the shop to go home a cool rain began to fall, forcing me at length to pull over and slip on my Rainlegs and jacket. I pedaled briskly, heard the pitter-plat! of big raindrops on my shoulders and arms, and felt the vibration of my tires over the asphalt; my ability to feel a bike roll is like some folks' ability to smell. I reveled in the feel of rolling, the raindrops gently hitting my face and shins (I was wearing knickers), pedaled easily all the way home.

My stress is still here with me, and will be for awhile (I've got a lot to sort out these days), but that bike ride was a balm for my weary soul. I think that, in between lesson-planning and practicing, I'll probably take another one tomorrow.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Coffeeneuring Challenge 2012, # 8: Cafe Eleven (NE Rosa Parks Way)

Although I've now submitted my "official" list of coffee stops for the 2012 Coffeeneuring Challenge, the challenge doesn't officially end until November 11. So I'm giving myself time to enjoy a few more stops along the way. Because I've already submitted my list, I don't have to follow the minimum distance and non-work-day rules as hard and fast anymore, which makes it easier for me since I've gone to a changeable part-time work schedule.

Today's stop: Cafe Eleven (435 NE Rosa Parks Way, 1 block east of MLK at the edge of the Piedmont neighborhood), which is just under a mile from my place but was on the way home from my teaching gig this afternoon. They serve Trailhead coffee (, which is locally roasted and quite delicious. I didn't have time to sit for long, so I got it in my thermal mug and checked out the scenery while I sipped. Cafe Eleven was established in an old house at the edge of a residential zone. It went by some other name last year and this year they changed their name (which may mean they changed hands too; Portland restaurants and cafes are notoriously short-lived).

Total ridden: 11.3 miles.
I'll try to get in one more coffee stop before the challenge ends next Sunday evening.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Coffeeneuring Challenge 2012 # 7: Velo Cult, NE 42nd & Tillamook

Today was mostly a day off -- now that I am tutoring Hebrew students privately I don't always have two full days "off" each week, so I have to squeeze these things in when I can. Thankfully, my Hebrew student met with me early in the day so I could ride around afterwards and get my errands done.

I set out on a balmy, wet day (highs in the mid-60s, steady rain most of the day) clad in full rain regalia and prepared to get soaked. The fall colors were still in evidence in many places, making everything gold and orange and really beautiful; so I didn't mind.

First up: a trip to Crank Bike Shop ( to pick up a frame I'd arranged to have shipped there. (I scored this frame just before I'd found the Sekai a couple of weeks back, and it finally arrived over the weekend.) Crank runs a hot pot with coffee but I wouldn't consider it a full-on coffee stop. Still, I enjoyed unwrapping my cool, new frame (a 1986 StumpJumper that I may build into a singlespeed -- but let me finish the Sekai first!), hefting Justin's new cyclocross wheel (weighed something like 12 ounces -- stupid light) and chatting with the fellas.

I continued on through Northeast, riding up to NE 39th and crossing over the freeway into the Hollywood District for another planned stop at Velo Cult (1969 NE 42nd Avenue -- This is a bike shop AND a community cultural space which hosts films, presidential debates, and live music on a very cool drop-down stage made from a miniature castle door.

As I am playing a show here next week (, I thought it would be a good idea to come by and scope things out -- check out where I want to put seating, set up a space to sell CDs, etc.

The store is really pretty unassuming from the street, except for a couple of bikes on display in the heavily-barred windows. But inside it is delightfully comfortable for a bike shop. A long table made from recycled bowling lanes dominates the room, with benches for folks to sit at while they eat and drink and sometimes wait for their bikes to be repaired.

Velo Cult does not serve food (they'd need a license for that and they're unlikely to be approved in the same room inhabited by rubber and oil), but you can bring your own. They do offer a great selection of microbrews on tap, wine and bottled pop, and even a rootbeer tap for the kids.

The shop is almost cavernous, with lots of open space and a high ceiling -- big enough that, on a quiet day, I can bring my cargo bike into the shop and park it alongside the large communal table.

I hung my wet togs up to partially dry and had lunch, read magazines, and checked my email on my semi-ancient-style mobile phone. I am surprised that I can check my mail and even my Facebook messages on a phone this old-style, but I can.

I can also take medicore pictures that are good enough for documentation purposes.

While I ate and drank and relaxed, a mechanic was at work on a customer's bike.  He kindly stopped what he was doing to wash his hands and brew me a cup of coffee.

I also picked up a couple of inner tubes for my Sekai project. It felt weird to buy tubes and pay full pop at a bike shop, after being able to buy stuff at cost-plus-ten for so many years. But it's okay. My work-life has moved on, and this is part of the new trip.

The Ethiopian coffee was so tasty that it did not need milk or sugar, a rarity for someone used to adding a little of both.  I will order it again.
Finally, when it was time to go home and do some lesson-planning for my classes, I suited up -- my rain gear was only damp now -- said my goodbyes, and took a long, scenic route towards home in a light, steady, almost pleasant rain.

Total distance: 12.8 miles.