Have you heard? Way2Hip, the influential website, recently awarded Portland’s independent coffee shops a score of 97.2 on their Caffeinomenal scale.

I decided to investigate. At every downtown coffee shop, I would order, drink, and rate one (1) small cup of black coffee. I would measure each establishment’s VSOP (Vibe, Sincerity, Organic Purity).

I would note which Famous Maine Personage (FMP) each shop most personifies, as well as Other Outstanding Oddities (OOO).

I did it all yesterday morning between 8 and 10.

 

8:04 am Arabica Coffee House

The epicenter for Portland’s Creative Economy crowd? You’re guaranteed to recognize somebody here, it’s that kind of place. Cool music. $1.87 for a dark roast that took 8 months off of my life.

VSOP=★★★★

FMP: Glenn Cummings.

OOO: Hippest looking baristas in town? 

8:16 am Bard Coffee

Not so much a coffee shop as the de facto office for about 27 start-ups: I saw no people, only the backs of opened iMacs. $2.10 for a “Medium Blend Costa Rican Single Origin,” which actually tasted a little thin.

VSOP=★★★

FMP: Justin Alfond.

OOO: Feels like the closest thing we have to Seattle. 

8:41 am Crooked Mile

Man, it’s quiet in here, kind of dark, too. Is this place a front for something? $1.50 for Carrabassett Coffee from Kingfield, a bit on the raw side.

VSOP=★

FMP: John Cacoulidis.

OOO: Good spot for observing furtive couples meeting at the Regency. 

Wait, I gotta’ find somewhere to pee… OK, back to work. 

8:58 Others!

This place is earnest. I mean earnestly earnest. OK, it’s $1.69 for a “Guatemalan Medium Roast, Fair Trade and Organic, roasted right here.” Slightly batter tasting. Wait did I say batter … I meant bitter.

VSOP=★★★★

FMP: Tom Andrews.

OOO: Their motto is “Changing the world through coffee … one cup at a time.”

Should’ve brought some Tums. 

9:07 Spartan Grill

Boy, they named this one right. Leonidas would be at home here, coupla’ tables and — boom — you’re out in Monument Square. $1.75 for a CBD pour.

PVOS, sorry, SPOV, sorry, VSOP=★

FMP: Peter Mills.

OOO: Who was that guy in Spartacus not Kirk Douglas but the other one who’s his friend who dies in the end oh no wait he doesn’t die oh wait yes he does they all do. 

Is there a bathroom anywhere near Monument Square? 

9:19 am Speckled AxAxAxAxAxAxAxAx

No I’m just kidding really it’s only called The Speckled Ax but I thought it was kind of funny and I can’t get that Ax out of my … slow down. Breathe. Phew! All right, this place is very new, very serious. We Are Going To Educate You About Coffee. Yes, sir! $2.00 for Matt’s Wood Roasted Organic Coffee: dark, rich.

VSOP=★★★★

FMP: Eliot Cutler.

OOO: My coffee was called “Sock Saunders.” SockSaundersSockSaundersSock SaundersS 

9:30 am Coffee By Sprouts Local Design

WaitImeanttosay Coffee by Design and Local Sprouts but Iwantedtodothembothatonce. Have you ever seen so many aging slackers sitting around drinking coffee when they should be at work or building birdhouses or carving cheese and — sorry. CBD was $1.65 for “Zimbabwe,” Local Sprouts was $1.25 for Matt’s Wood Roasted Something but why these places are close to each other I mean why did they build them so near when they’re so

VVVVSSSSOOOPPPP: ★ — I mean — ★★ — no I mean ★★★ — no I really mean ★★★★.

FMP: Roxanne Quimby or Jonathan Carter it really doesn’t matter since either place is the other place is the North Woods is a cup of coffee is Congress Street is

OOO: The art here is spooky. 

… I think I should sit down for a bit … ugh … 

9:4777 aammm HHHhiiilllllttttoooooppppp

IItt”sss hhaarrdd ttooo ttyypppeee wwwhheeenn ttthhee kkkeeyyyss wwwooonnn”‘ttt ssstttooopp jjjjuuummmppppiinnggg?. Hhhaaavvve ttoo gggrrraabb tthheee — TABLE. It. Is. Very. Quiet. And. Intense. Here. CBD’s. Hilltop. Blend. $1.45

VVVVSSS-nnnooottt aaagggaaainn!!!!OOOOPPP=★★★★★★★★★★★★ STOP!

FMP: Stephen King

OOO: Hhhelllllllppppppp!!!!!!!!! 

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John Spritz is a marketing and communications consultant based in Portland, www.jspritz.com.