Welcome to another Coffeeneuring adventure! I’m back in Portland, so most likely the balance of this year’s challenge will happen locally.
The destination for Ride 5 is the Albina Press on SE Hawthorne. The bike this time: my Raleigh Crested Butte. It was a five mile round-trip cruise.
Albina Press is one of those “early third wave” Portland coffee shops that were a big deal in the early aughts (I remember they won some World Barista Championships for a few years) but have lost stature since then. Not forgotten, not gotten “bad”, but other younger, hungrier shops have taken a bit of their thunder. To say you were going to Albina Press in 2004 was a big deal, to say you are going to Albina Press in 2019, you’ll probably get “Oh yeah! That place. I forgot about them.”
Albina Press is named after the Albina District of (mostly) North and (somewhat) Northeast Portland. Albina was a separate city, one of the three towns (Portland, East Portland, Albina) that got consolidated into one in 1891. During the middle to late part of the twentieth century the Albina district was one of the few areas that African-Americans were allowed to live in, so it became the black neighborhood. (During that area, African-Americans also lived in the redlined areas around Albina, but “Albina” became shorthand for the black part of town,* whether it was truly in the district or not.) In the early parts of the 21st Century, Albina got gentrified, so that’s why you’ll get coffee shops and the like named after it.
Anyways, here are three locations: the original on N Albina Avenue, the second on SE Hawthorne Blvd, and a third in Vancouver, Washington. The Hawthorne location is about two miles from me, so a good place to go nearby.** I also realized last month another advantage to this location: It’s open to 8 PM. I like to draw at night, but Portland is sparse on evening coffee shops.
I got there around 5 PM. If I’m not ordering an espresso drink at this hour, I tend to get a pour-over, since it guarantees freshness. But Albina Press is so “early third wave” that when I asked about pour over, I got a blank stare. Pour-over? It’s what most newer coffee shops will do. Heck, even Starbucks can do pour over.
But Albina only does one thing for its “not espresso based” drinks: French Press. That is so “early third wave”. I used to pretty much only make French Press at home during the aughts. I don’t do it much anymore, but it still enjoy a press pot brew from time to time. So smooth. The coffee was still good and tasty, and I whiled away a couple of hours drawing.
I left around 7:30. It was dark and chilly, but clear: A nice fall night in Portland. I rode back home mostly using the maligned “50’s Bikeway”. Maligned because the city could have built it better, using roads that don’t have much of a climb. But there was opposition*** to the lower route since it would use more trafficked streets, so PBoT (Portland Bureau of Transportation) built it on quieter, but hillier streets. Yes, I would have liked the lower route, but sometimes I like the challenge of going up the shoulder of Mount Tabor. The downhill can be fun!
Okay, just two more rides left to this year’s Coffeeneuring Challenge…
*Unfortunately, the Albina District also became shorthand for “The bad part of town”, at least to the rest of the city, which was majority white.
**My ride there actually was three miles. I stopped by the library first.
***Meaning: At least one person didn’t like it.