By Emily McIntyre
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE
Like most buildouts in our industry, the new Case Study Coffee Roasters shop on Northeast Alberta Street in Portland, Ore., was built from vision and elbow grease as much as from wood and steel and Heath Ceramic tile. Owners Wes Russell and Christine Herman began serving coffee to the good people of Portland back in 2007 with an espresso catering service that grew to one, two, and now three unique neighborhood coffeehouses.
Case Study was inspired by the mid-century architectural movement of the same name, and each shop reflects the design aesthetic in a different way. At 1422 NE Alberta, Russell took advantage of the high ceilings, mezzanine and all, to design a riff on the 1960’s-era Sputnik chandelier at each shop: a 12-foot caffeine molecule. George Nelson bubble lamps (designed from World War II military self-webbing material), Rowland 40/4 chairs, and a mind-bending floor that mimics terrazzo flooring, are added details that set the stage for a custom black Synesso Hydra with laser-etching, Kony and Mahlkonig EK-43 grinders, and a beautiful 1948-era Probat L-5 purchased from Willem Boot.
Piece by piece, the shop was built by the Case Study team. They performed improbable acrobatics on ladders to hang the Sputnik, sweated through the 90+ degree Portland summer while they sanded and finished the hundreds of walnut rails that finish the curving bar, and laid the tile, piece by piece. Now, one of the œprettiest cafes in Portland is fully operational and serving coffees like the exclusive 3-bag microlot Guatemala Campamento Alto making waves among customers right now.
The shop opened in early August with an early sneak peek for the coffee industry at a TNTNW event. Hosted by Espresso Parts and Case Study, the event was a huge, packed-out success. After a couple months of getting systems in place and meeting the neighborhood, the Grand Opening Party welcomed everyone to dance to the inimitable Bollywood mix of DJ Anjali and the Incredible Kid and down far too much local beer. Now, the cafe and baristas are buckling down to dispense good cheer through the long, dreary Portland winter. They certainly have made a promising start.
A barista married to a Q Grader, Emily McIntyre wears plenty of hats in the coffee industry: as one of the kick-ass teammates at The LAB the West CoastCaffeine Crawls are her baby; she’s the newly-appointed œmarketing person at Case Study Coffee in Portland, Oregon; and as a freelance writer who is obsessed with the people who create and love coffee, she writes her way across the country as well as provides business writing services to coffee companies small and large. All social media handles ˜mcintyrewrites.’ She also produces an intermittent travel/beverages blog at www.softexplosions.com.