PDX Coffee Outside is part of a phenomenon that sprung up in a lot of places around 2015: Usually weekly and often a weekday morning, it was an informal meet-up of outside coffee enthusiast cyclists. All it required was someone to seize the initiative and set a date/time, then people would show up on their bikes, coffee kits in tow. A hour or two of making and drinking coffee, snacking, bullshitting and hanging out.
I discovered PDX Coffee Outside in fall of 2016. Portland’s weekly meet-up was Fridays at 7 AM, which I sometimes could make on my way to work at the hostel. It depended on where the location was: Portland’s location rotated with no system or rhythm,1 where other cities may have a regular rotation or stick to one spot. Once I started to “work from home” and lost a regular schedule, it got hard to get out of bed and be somewhere around 7 AM, even though I love the idea of coffee outside and enjoyed it when I showed up. The last time I remember going was in November of 2019, when it was at Laurelhurst Park. (And that was at least a year after the previous time I went.) Laurelhurst is less than two miles from my house, so it’s much easier to stumble out my bed and go to it rather than ride 10 miles or so with no fuel.
Then pandemic hit and shuttered PDX Coffee Outside. They tried doing a “zoom” version early on, but once the novelty of “Zoom for everything” wore off, there’s been nothing until now. They put out the call that it’d be happening on May 22nd at 9 PM. This was a Saturday and two hours later than the usual time, making it a lot easier for folks to show up. And since this particular installment would also be at Laurelhurst, it was an easy choice to go.
I amazingly woke up at 8 AM. Amazing, as my sleep schedule has shifted to one that would accommodate watching Late Night with David Letterman, even though that show hasn’t been on since 1993. I got to Laurelhurst at about 9:15. There was already a bunch of people there, and by the time it was done I’d say the numbers were about 20-24, including three tykes. It was really, really good to hang out with people again and see some old faces. And there was the usual geeking out about bikes and discussions about riding and camping.
I made it easy on myself and brought my “lazy” coffee kit: The Esbit stove/pot kit to boil water, and a couple “pour over bags”. These are basically pre-ground coffee tea bags that you open up, put into a cup, and pour water over. I’ll get fancier again at some point but I wanted something “no fuss” for my first social coffee outside in a year and a half. There was a good variety of other preparation methods with an emphasis on pour over and AeroPress.
Coffee outside wrapped up around 11 AM with everyone going their separate ways. I decided to run some errands before I went home. PDX Coffee Outside will happen again at some point soon, it could be on a Friday or possibly another Saturday. I hope to make to it more often than I used to!
Editor’s Note: One more Coffee Outside has happened since this first one, on Saturday May 29th at Mt. Tabor. It looks like pdxcoffeeoutside is on track for Saturdays at 9 AM through summer. They’ll revisit the idea of a Friday one in fall, if enough people go back to work downtown. For now I’ll enjoy the Saturday morning coffee!
All photos with my Olympus XA2 and Kentmere 400 film. See the photos in the dynamic flickr album below, or click here.
1 Though it always remained reliably west of SE/NE Cesar Chavez Blvd (formerly SE/NE 39th Av). This was due to the central idea of keeping it central so people could get to work downtown easily, and also because of the “head” pdxcoffeeoutside person living downtown. Of course, some of the North Portland destinations like Peninsula Park were just as far from downtown, if not further. But to many Portlanders, going east is “further” than going north or south. The recent Mount Tabor destino was the first to break with the “not east of Chavez” rule.