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Working in Portland coffee shops and cafes reviews, part 1

Posted by Thu, 21 Jul 2005 20:10:00 GMT

Since I have found myself sitting in cafes and coffee shops a lot, I thought that I would give a quick and dirty review of a few that I frequent.

Costellos Travel Caffe – My first trip here was to meet Rael Dornfest of O’Reilly for lunch. I had a vegan tomato soup that day and have been in love with that place since. Free wifi + good food = Costellos. They have a nice, short menu, with soups, sandwiches, and salads. In regards to the coffee, they have the best soy mochas out of this list of cafes. You can also enjoy a good foreign beer or glass of wine. They always run videos on the 2 large widescreens on the walls, of photographs and videos from different places around the world. It’s usually soundtracked to some instrumental music… for example, the last time I was in there, I heard Sigur Ros and Lemon Jelly while video showed. It’s a pretty cool place and I need to thank Rael for inviting me there. :-)

My only problem with working there is that it does attract a lot of traffic and finding a good seat isn’t always realistic. You can get lucky… but finding a spot with a power outlet isn’t always guaranteed…infact, you’d best charge up before getting there… as I’d be the guy in the corner with the plug in use already. ;-)

Urban Grind (NE) – This is my morning-to-noon place. They do serve food, but I haven’t actually tried their sandwiches or soups yet. I enjoy their coffee and go here the most. The place is in a big warehouse and it has many tables that are perfect for working at. My girlfriend often comes with me and we sit side by side on our laptops and have enough space to spread out a bit. Free wifi as well and tons of extension cords for people to plug in. There is more of a regulars atmosphere there. The same people show up each day and it’s very calm. My only wish is that they stayed open later than 4 PM. The one in NW has later hours, but that would require me to drive or bus to the other corner of town. I also prefer the laid back nature of NE/SE in contrast to the NW area. Music typically heard include, bjork, interpol… just to name a few. I usually have my headphones on anyways.

Fireside Coffee Lodge – Located in SE Portland, this is the farthest regular spot that I go to. Why would I go so far? They are open 24 hours. Yep, 24 hours of free wifi and coffee… how can you pass that up? When and if I get the urge to work at 2 AM, I can head there and have a good and quiet time. It has several outlets for juicing your laptop and has some tastey coffee drinks. (might I suggest the Almond Joy…) I have been going there for several years with PDXLUG, which is where we hold our monthly meetings. The seats aren’t as comfortable and the tables aren’t either.. but that doesn’t matter when you need that 3:15 AM coding fix and you want to get out of the house for a bit. I spent a lot of time there this last spring when my girlfriend was finishing up here semester in college doing homework. Music doesn’t really play here too often and if so, it’s usually one of the girls at the counter playing NPR.

Redwing Coffee & Baking – Honestly, sitting here.. this is my first time here. What provoked this entry was that I felt that someone should provide a quick and dirty list of places in Portland to work on. So maybe I will work on a site for that in the future and such… as opposed to just how good the food/coffee is… how easy is it to spend 6+ hours in it? Laptop batteries don’t last that long.. and as there seems to be only one power outlet..and I got lucky to snag it. So, I don’t know if this place is ideal for working more than a few hours in. They are currently playing Neil Young… and I’d guess that older stuff like Young, Dylan, and maybe some other 60s/70s stuff would be common here. It’s quite warm in here too as they are baking food in the back. It makes for a nice smell, but when it’s 90~ degrees F outside, it doesn’t cool you down much. They’re open to 8 PM and look like they have a good menu for vegetarians, (like me).

UPDATE: They have free iced tea refills… that’s great!

On a side note, it just started to sprinkle. My day just got a little better. :-)

So, there is my list of a few common places that I go to. I will post more in the near future, but thought that I would start off with the last 4 places that I have been to. I intend on trying more and will continue working on this list.

back to writing… and to my hummus plate.

Portlanders… do you have any places to suggest for working at? I’d like to continue my search for the perfect away-from-the-office cafe.

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