yet another Oregon coffee report

I recently made from my annual trek to the Beaver State, spending time as always in Portland and Eugene.

in the garden area at Equiano Coffee Roasters, Eugene

I’m convinced that Portland is America’s best coffee city, Cofflandia if you will. Why, you ask?

  • large number of quality cafés
  • home to some of the country’s best roasters
  • the city has a large geographic footprint, but the high quality cafes are spread all over
  • Portland is a magnet for coffee talent

Let’s dig into the details. Click to keep reading.

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The Matty Macchiato 5th Annual Holiday Gift Guide – Part II

photo: iStock/Svetlana_nsk, via The Wirecutter/NY Times

Part I of this year’s guide focused on branded swag. Today we’ll try for most everything else.

Here are suggestions on what to get for the person who……..

Wants to make better coffee at home, by any method

I could wax poetically about coffee demigod James Hoffmann and his new book, How to Make the Best Coffee at Home, ($19.99 – available from all major book retailers, though it would be nice of you to support your local independent bookstore), but better to let the man himself tell you all about it.

If you are interested in coffee at all, Hoffmann’s YouTube channel is an absolute treasure ($FREE).

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the easiest way to sample great coffee

Not too long ago a friend turned me on to a text subscription service for buying wine. You sign up with your credit card, address and phone number, and every day you get a text offering a quality wine for sale at a steep discount. If you want to buy it, all you do is answer the text with the number of bottles you want. As in sending a text that only says “2.” No minimum purchases, you can just lurk and never order or go nuts building a wine library as you go broke. I’ve enjoyed it, even if at times I’ve gotten a little side eye at home for buying too often. In my defense, whomever is writing the daily texts is one of the finest marketing writers I’ve ever encountered, the fact I’m not buying every day is an achievement.

It turns out that Fellow Products, the retailer of achingly beautiful consumer coffee equipment, has started a very similar service for coffee beans. Fellow Drops is a very similar no-commitment coffee subscription service run by text message. The difference from the wine text service is the tempting messages come once a week, rather than daily, and while the writing is still enticing it may not take the same strength of will as the wine texts to avoid ordering every single time.

I’ve ordered a few times, and been very pleased with the results. The offerings are always interesting and focus on high-quality growers and roasters, with attention paid to different coffee varietals and unique finishing processes. You’ll need a grinder or access to one, as it’s whole beans only.

I’ve covered earlier my first order, which was from Onyx Labs. Among the other orders I’ve made was one of three different varietals from Red Rooster Coffee, a notable roaster based in Floyd, VA that I’ve been meaning to try. So far every order has been absolutely exceptional.

So if you like trying new and exciting coffee at home, and the use of the term ‘curated’ outside of a museum doesn’t bother you, give it a shot. It’s great access to rarely available quality beans without having to hunt them down and check the roast date on the bag. You can sign up at the Fellow Products website.

This Isn’t a Box, This Is So Much More Than a Box

I recently made my first order with Fellow Drops, the text-to-order coffee service from the company that makes the most achingly beautiful coffee paraphernalia. It was a sampler set of four coffees from Onyx Coffee Lab, one of my favorite roasters.

Not too much longer, a small box, no more than a 5″ x 5″ x 5″ cube, arrived at my home. My initial reaction was disappointment, because clearly four bags of coffee couldn’t fit inside such a wee little box. My second reaction was befuddlement, as it took a while to figure out how to open the sucker. Once I did, ohhhhhhhhh my, was I in for a delightful surprise.

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Power Rankings: August 9

One man’s opinion. Ask me tomorrow and I’m likely to tell you something completely different.

1. Onyx
2. Heart
3. Verve
4. Sweet Bloom
5. Counter Culture

DMV Cafés
1. Café Unido
2. The Coffee Bar (Shaw)
3. Baked & Wired
4. Dua Coffee DC
5. Northside Social (Arlington)
HM (alphabetically): Kaldi Social House (Silver Spring), Lost Sock, Maketto, Swings (Alexandria), Takoma Bev Co, Vigilante (Hyattsville)

3rd Annual Holiday Gift Guide

also see my 2018 and 2019 guides

As terrible as the year 2020 has been, the holiday season gives us a chance to end on a positive note and get ready for better days ahead. If you’re looking for the perfect gift for the coffee obsessive in your life, or want to treat yourself, here are a few ideas for you. All are available online for those unable or unwilling to do in-person shopping. I also encourage you to take a look through my previous gift guides (links above), as most everything in there is still available and still makes for great presents.

Shop Local
If your giftee’s favorite coffee shop is still open, you can bet they’re fighting for survival. Give a gift that will be appreciated by the recipient and the merchant. Look up the website of that favorite shop, there’s a good chance you can find electronic gift certificates, beans, and merch.

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what a bargain!

photo: Eventbrite

My Father’s Day gift this year (I was asked what I wanted) was an on-line home espresso class, offered by Breville in conjunction with Onyx Coffee Lab. My session was yesterday.

I’ve taken classes before at Counter Culture and Vigilante, but it had been a while and this offer was too good to be true.

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trying a new bag (or two)

I’ve heard a lot of good things in the specialty coffee nerdiverse about Onyx Coffee Lab, a roaster in Rogers, Arkansas, with cafes in Rogers, Fayetteville, and Bentonville. Since I’ve never been to the Ozarks and, current pandemic notwithstanding, don’t anticipate getting there anytime soon, it was high time to try them out by ordering some beans by mail. I was very happy for this box to appear on my doorstep the day after I ran through my current stash of beans.

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