Since 1999, Duane Sorensen and his company have done such a good job of marketing their beans to Portland coffeehouses that it’s hard to imagine another coffee roaster gaining traction in the Rose City. The location in the trendy Ace Hotel is probably the company’s most contemporary coffeehouse, dating to 2007, with stark white and wood walls and overhead menus. It’s a good thing that Stumptown stocks shelves of direct-trade beans. Otherwise, you’re better off driving or taking a bus to the Stumptown Annex, which offers a much more compelling Stumptown coffee experience.
Sadly, the interior is completely uninviting. A few seats line the window counter, but you won’t find a single table, and most customers are shunted aside into the Ace’s uncomfortable couch-lined lobby.
What the space lacked in warmth, they made up for in style. Their signature three-group La Marzocco is the Ferrari of espresso makers.
The machine didn’t just look pretty. It also performed well, working in two-step with the barista to produce a smooth crema-capped shot of Hairbender, the company’s signature espresso blend.
At Stumptown, Cup of Excellence coffee beans aren’t good enough, at least according to the friendly barista. He pointed out prized purchases, including Panama Esmeralda Batch #2, which retails for $190 per pound.
Stumptown’s traditional wall-mounted menu was flanked by jarred beans and crowned with an overhead rooster mascot.
Overall, an above average espresso shot and friendly service isn’t enough to draw me back to the Ace Stumptown. It’s clear that Stumptown sources compelling coffee beans. Next time I’m in Portland, I’ll just choose to enjoy them at the Annex or at one of the more inviting Portland coffeehouses that use Stumptown beans. Coffeehouse NW and Albina Press South come to mind.