Coffeeneuring 2022, Ride 1: Wallflower Coffee, Sat 22 Oct

Another year, another coffeeneuring challenge! This year I don’t have an overarching theme, but there are a few sub-challenges I want to incorporate into the main challenge:

  • Ride all my bikes (currently four) at least once
  • Do at least one #pdxcoffeeoutside and if that fails, at least one coffee outside of my own
  • Hit up new coffeeshops when possible

My first ride did not happen until two weeks had passed. I just wasn’t feeling inspired, especially since the October has been an abnormally hot one. The rain and fall weather finally hit on Friday October 21st, a welcome relief. The advance forecast called for a wet weekend, so I cancelled the East Portland Cemeteries Ride scheduled for Saturday. Of course, Saturday wasn’t as bad as predicted, but if I didn’t cancel the ride, it would pour. Damned if I do…

Anyways, I wanted to keep it simple and easy for my first ride. I had a few errands to run: the post office, library, and a zine drop-off at Books with Pictures. I figured I’d incorporate a coffee stop somewhere in there. I loaded up my Raleigh Superbe and hit the road around 1 PM. It was showery for the first bit, but the rain lifted after the post office and it remained sunny for the rest of the day.

After many months of dry and warm weather, it was a bit of a shock to be riding in damp and cool. The sound of my Col de la Vie tires on wet pavement was beautiful, a noise I had forgotten about. The leaves were finally changing. It felt like fall.

I decided to stop at Wallflower Coffee Company at SE Division and 32nd. This shop opened last year in the space of a former shop that I had been to a few times, but can’t remember the name. Wallflower was in the vein of the “stark and minimalist” shop that infected big cities sometime in the late aughts and hasn’t gone away yet. I ordered a mocha and sat down for a bit, but the busyness of the shop and the austere atmosphere didn’t inspire me to stick around. Ah, sometimes I long for the “funky” coffeeshops of the nineties and earlier aughts, even if the coffee wasn’t as good…

Leaving the shop, I reflected on the SE Division Street of right now. The area between 26th and 34th had rapidly gentrified over the past decade, and Wallflower was in one of those anonymous three to four story buildings that line the street here. Across the street is an older building from the early 20th century that hosted a number of businesses over the years. When I first moved to town in 2001, it was a junk shop. There were a number of them when I moved to town, and they’d only be in districts with cheap rent like Division. I frequented many of them, as I was broke and needing to furnish my austere digs. Most of them had overpriced mediocre crap, so I rarely purchased anything. Five years later it was a Moroccan restaurant with decent food but over-the-top belly dancers who, after they performed, would get in your face and wonder where their tip was. By that point, Division had shed much of its unsavory image, but in 2001 it was one of the few streets in SE that I would feel uneasy walking on after dark.

I think of this because there’s a current narrative that Portland was better “back then”, usually in the 1980s and 90s, before the New York Times would feature us every week. Rent was definitely cheaper, but there were a lot more sketchy districts than gentrified. (SE Belmont around 34th was Heroin Central until the Belmont Dairy redevelopment around 1996.) There was also a skinhead presence in this part of town, and certain parks were to be avoided. I’m not saying that gentrification is a good thing, but I don’t also like the romanticization of grittiness.

Anyways, after a stop at the stationery shop and the library, I rolled home. It was a good little ride of 10.4 miles/16.7 km. And there will be more Coffeeneuring rides to come!

Coffeeneuring Stop: Wallflower on SE Division, 22 Oct 2022
Like my stuff? Go to my Ko-fi page to buy me a coffee!

2 thoughts on “Coffeeneuring 2022, Ride 1: Wallflower Coffee, Sat 22 Oct

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  1. I love this idea! Especially with the change of season. We don’t live anywhere near you so can’t quite join in. However, I think I’m going to do a few coffee rides soon. Thanks for the inspiration.

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