Like a junkie and their dealer, the source from which a Portlander gets their coffee is crucial. Some coffee fiends want it straight, with tough, tattooed baristas and no smiling. Some want their spot big and corporate with green aprons and premade sandwiches.
Like a junkie and their dealer, the source from which a Portlander gets their coffee is crucial. Some coffee fiends want it straight, with tough, tattooed baristas and no smiling. Some want their spot big and corporate with green aprons and premade sandwiches. Barista II, the new installment of the well-reputed Pearl location, has now blessed the northeast Alberta crowd with a new location for coffee drinkers to get their fix.
If you’ve ever been to the Pearl location of Barista, you know that being shoulder to shoulder with other coffee drinkers is not unusual. Although the coffee at this location is sensational, it can often feel a little cramped in there.
Barista Matt Brown, who works at the Alberta location, believes that the two spots are separate creatures altogether.
“We’re going for an entirely different aesthetic here,” Brown said. “It was said best when someone said ‘this is a place where coffee people can come to drink their coffee.'”
When guests arrive, they are greeted by a large paper sign with the different espresso varieties offered that day, along with the roasting date (usually within a day or two). Under each type are the different flavor profiles that may be traced within your latte: There’s everything from citrus to cocoa to toffee.
Recently, the varieties offered were Intelligentsia’s Black Cat blend (Chicago), Counter Culture’s Valle Del Santuario (Durham, N.C.) and, of course, Stumptown’s Hairbender.
The coffee itself is just what one would expect: As tasty as it is beautiful. The lattes, expertly crafted and topped with stylish heart designs, are silky on the tongue. The Americanos, for the “give it to me straight” drinker, are aggressive yet smooth.
The new location’s interior feels more like an art gallery you’d linger in peacefully than a hectic place to grab your coffee and go. Inside, drinkers can cozy up to mahogany bar seating that wraps around the baristas in action. Other places to sip are large connected couches lined with subtle patterns, as well as wooden picnic benches where you can make a friend after the caffeine starts to kick in. On the shelves above the working baristas are scattered trinkets: empty booze bottles, plates and bags of coffee and sugar. These items, along with the beautiful flowered walls lined with mahogany paneling, resemble what a stylish Alberta home might look like. There is also a dash of European café thrown in with a large open-air window that will likely let summer winds float in soon.
The connections that guests might draw between Barista II and the welcoming nature of a neighborhood bar are not accidental.
“A lot of coffee places come and go, but this will be here in 10, 15 years,” Brown said. “That’s what we’re goin’ for.”
It seems that once the Alberta inhabitants catch wind of Barista II, they will likely fill the open space with the best part of a coffee shop: people-watching galore.