For a coffee addict like me, living in Portland is both a blessing and a curse.
On one hand, there's such a wealth of good coffee roasters in town—from Stumptown to Ristretto—that you can find fresh-roasted beans without hardly looking (hell, you can find fresh beans at the grocery store—try doing that in most other cities). I'm proud to say that the beans in my apartment were roasted just a few blocks away, just last week, and they're damn good.
Thank goodness great beans are so readily accessible, because I need a constant supply. Having an espresso obsession/ addiction necessitates a daily dose of crema (and, occasionally, two or three doses), which can get pricey if you have to hit a coffee shop every time you need a fix. Multiply that by a household of two obsessives/addicts, and we were looking at bankruptcy if we didn't come up with a cheaper way to mainline caffeine.
So, after an embarrassing amount of time spent poring over reviews at sites like coffeegeek.com, we dropped a few hundred bucks on an espresso machine and a burr grinder—figuring it would pay for itself in a few short months. (Yes, we drink that much coffee. Step off.) Problem solved, right?
Nope, it just means we're buying a lot more beans. The espresso machine sits there on the counter, constantly begging us to pull a few shots. And we concede, sometimes several times a day. We burn through a bag of Stumptown beans much faster than we used to.
Constantly restocking our supply of Portland's great local beans wouldn't be a problem—except for the curse that is living in Portland.
In Portland, no matter how good your home coffee is, there's always an amazing coffee shop (or a tasting space like the Stumptown Annex) not far away. While the home machine makes delicious espresso (thanks, no doubt, to our ultra fresh and well-roasted beans), and steams milk quite nicely, it's really no replacement for Portland's awesome professional baristas. Now, our thirst for espresso at a peak, we're ironically finding ourselves in line at places like Albina Press, Crema, Stumptown, Ristretto, and Fresh Pot more often than before. If we get wind of a new shop opening anywhere in town, we make a pilgrimage, searching for the city's absolutely best coffee. It's time consuming, quite ridiculous, and ultimately frustrating—the truth is, it's hard to get a bad cup of coffee in Portland, and we should leave it at that. But we can't, because it's an addiction.