Saturday Series: The Rialta Coffee Tour, Part 10

The Ultimate Coffee Road Trip Across the United States.

This week: Massachusetts to Maine

Editor’s note:  We began publishing reports from Don Niemyer about the cafes he visited on his cross-country coffee tour back in the summer of 2013, and we’ve loved following his journey, learning about amazing coffeehouses out there in the United States, ever since. We’ll be publishing reports from Don about his recent journey around the Central and Northern states every Saturday this fall. To catch up on Don’s earlier posts about his explorations of coffee culture throughout the Western United States, click  HERE. Following are links to Don’s posts from this current Saturday Series:

Part 1: Oregon to Amarillo, Texas
Part 2: Oklahoma to South Dakota
Part 3: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Part 4: Wisconsin to Michigan
Part 5: Chicago, Illinois
Part 6: Indiana to Washington, D.C.
Part 7: Virginia to Florida
Special Edition: The Big Central Coffee Competitions in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Part 8: Maryland to Pennsylvania
Part 9: Delaware to Rhode Island

We hope you continue to enjoy Don’s reports as much as we do!

By Don Niemyer
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE

FACT #1: It is 3,200 miles from Portland, Oregon, to Portland, Maine.

FACT #2: We drove over 10,000 miles in the Rialta to make this trip.

CONCLUSION: I think I have a math problem. Or a navigation one. Or something.

This week we visited cafes between Massachusetts and Maine.
This week we visited cafes between Massachusetts and Maine.

Actually, let’s call it a coffee problem. Truth of the matter is, when you’re looking for the nation’s greatest coffee shops ”not to mention trying to go to at least one in each state ”you don’t get to test out that whole shortest-distance-between-two-points concept. So as we pulled into Portland, Maine, after weeks on the road and more than 10,000 miles on the odometer, thus completing our much-talked-about œPortland to Portland  leg of the journey, we felt like we had won the lottery. The little pessimist in me only half believed we’d ever make it, but here we were! And the fun little surprise awaiting us? Portland, Maine is AWESOME.

Wanna hear why? Great! Let’s start down in Boston, and we’ll head up through New Hampshire before we get to the first Portland, and we’ll break it down for you. Coast to Coast, Portland to Portland, on the Rialta Coffee Tour!

Down Boston way we sleuthed around looking for one shop, since that's all we had time for. We felt like we hit a home run when we landed on Render.
Down Boston way we sleuthed around looking for one shop, since that’s all we had time for. We felt like we hit a home run when we landed on Render.
For starters, Render was the only place on the tour so far where the barista serving us had the brass to go for a swan. And she nailed it! You know what else she nailed? Flavor. Served up with impeccable hospitality, it was the grand trifecta!
For starters, Render was the only place on the tour so far where the barista serving us had the brass to go for a swan. And she nailed it! You know what else she nailed? Flavor. Served up with impeccable hospitality, it was the grand trifecta!
We enjoyed a great chat with Render owner Chris Dadey about everything from pourovers to parenting, and he offered some valuable perspective on the Boston coffee scene in general, as well as balancing the pressures of running a shop with having a life. Refreshing stuff.  Thanks, Chris ¦. And thanks, Render!
We enjoyed a great chat with Render owner Chris Dadey about everything from pourovers to parenting, and he offered some valuable perspective on the Boston coffee scene in general, as well as balancing the pressures of running a shop with having a life. Refreshing stuff. Thanks, Chris ¦. And thanks, Render!
We had just about given up on finding a quality coffee operation in New Hampshire when we accidentally discovered Pressed, a relatively new café focusing on great coffee, juice, and paninis.
We had just about given up on finding a quality coffee operation in New Hampshire when we accidentally discovered Pressed, a relatively new café focusing on great coffee, juice, and paninis.
Pressed has a beautiful space, nestled in among the hills on the outskirts of Nashua. We were lucky enough to be there during the leaf change, which made it even more picturesque.
Pressed has a beautiful space, nestled in among the hills on the outskirts of Nashua. We were lucky enough to be there during the leaf change, which made it even more picturesque.
We had some excellent George Howell coffee, and couldn't resist one of Pressed's amazing breakfast burritos. If you're in the Nashua area, you can trust Pressed with your culinary needs, whether it's coffee, food, or juice.
We had some excellent George Howell coffee, and couldn’t resist one of Pressed’s amazing breakfast burritos. If you’re in the Nashua area, you can trust Pressed with your culinary needs, whether it’s coffee, food, or juice.
Finally, we rolled into Portland, Maine! One of the first places we went when we hit town was Bard Coffee.
Finally, we rolled into Portland, Maine! One of the first places we went when we hit town was Bard Coffee.
Bard is an excellent operation and a beautiful space. I had a fantastic cappuccino, and after walking past this very compelling sign, Carissa had to go for the nitro-infused cold brew.
Bard is an excellent operation and a beautiful space. I had a fantastic cappuccino, and after walking past this very compelling sign, Carissa had to go for the nitro-infused cold brew.
Creamy and delicious, this was just what the doctor ordered on a warm Portland afternoon.
Creamy and delicious, this was just what the doctor ordered on a warm Portland afternoon.
Next up in Portland was Coffee by Design. These guys have been around for a couple of decades, focusing on farmer relationships, sustainability, and, of course, great coffee.
Next up in Portland was Coffee by Design. These guys have been around for a couple of decades, focusing on farmer relationships, sustainability, and, of course, great coffee.
CBD's newest café is impressive for its great utilization of space, with the bar area in the middle, and a high wall on one end, creating the feel of another  œroom  behind it with additional seating. CBD was a laboratory of fun equipment, too, with two different brands of espresso machines, a variety of hand brewing methods, a Modbar pour over setup, and more.
CBD’s newest café is impressive for its great utilization of space, with the bar area in the middle, and a high wall on one end, creating the feel of another œroom  behind it with additional seating. CBD was a laboratory of fun equipment, too, with two different brands of espresso machines, a variety of hand brewing methods, a Modbar pour over setup, and more.
We won't forget Portland, Maine, anytime soon, in large part because of Tandem Coffee Roasters, opened just over two years ago. By the time we found these guys we had already gotten over the notion that  œthis Portland  would never measure up to our hometown, and we were expecting great things. We were NOT to be disappointed!
We won’t forget Portland, Maine, anytime soon, in large part because of Tandem Coffee Roasters, opened just over two years ago. By the time we found these guys we had already gotten over the notion that œthis Portland  would never measure up to our hometown, and we were expecting great things. We were NOT to be disappointed!
We had a single-origin Guatemala cappuccino that was so good we treated ourselves to another the next day (a rare luxury for folks with so many shops to get to!). And check out that fun little built-in pour over station, inset into the counter with drip tray beneath.
We had a single-origin Guatemala cappuccino that was so good we treated ourselves to another the next day (a rare luxury for folks with so many shops to get to!). And check out that fun little built-in pour over station, inset into the counter with drip tray beneath.
As mentioned, Tandem is a roaster also, with a small but efficient production room sharing the space.  That's owner Will Pratt there making the magic.  And shortly after I snuck this photo he made a little hospitality magic as well, giving us the run down of the Portland scene, including coffee but also food and culture.
As mentioned, Tandem is a roaster also, with a small but efficient production room sharing the space. That’s owner Will Pratt there making the magic. And shortly after I snuck this photo he made a little hospitality magic as well, giving us the run down of the Portland scene, including coffee but also food and culture.
Tandem has become a neighbor-friendly place for people to come together, as you can see. Pratt intentionally avoid the free wi-fi scene so customers would be encouraged to interact with the coffee and one another. It works, too!  We met a couple of the locals there and had a great exchange. All said, Portland was a great stop on the tour, and Tandem still stands out as one of our favorites.
Tandem has become a neighbor-friendly place for people to come together, as you can see. Pratt intentionally avoid the free wi-fi scene so customers would be encouraged to interact with the coffee and one another. It works, too! We met a couple of the locals there and had a great exchange. All said, Portland was a great stop on the tour, and Tandem still stands out as one of our favorites.

So we made it to Portland, Maine, and we loved it ”but we’re not done yet! Next week, we’ll tool around in Vermont before heading back south again. Vermont was one of our favorite places on the tour, and we’ll have that report for you right here next Saturday, so be sure to check back! Until then, follow us at our social media sites, or at DonNiemyer.com. See you soon!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

donandcarissa

Don Niemyer  used to own three coffee shops in Portland, Ore., where he and his wife Carissa spent 8 years immersed in the excellent coffee culture there, milking it like a dairy cow for every drop of expertise it would give them, making lots of friends, doing some USBC judging, and learning all they could. One day, they decided to move their kids closer to family, so they bought a tiny RV, moved into it, and have been œmoving to Colorado  ever since, visiting coffee shops, practicing minimalism, and having lots of fun. That was over two years ago. One of these days, they might even end up living in Colorado.

 

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