The 90s rom-com classic, So I Married an Axe Murderer opens with a ridiculously large cup – more like a bowl – of coffee delivered through a crowded San Francisco poetry slam, to a wide-eyed Mike Meyers. He responds, in typical, over-the-top, Meyers’ fashion, “Whoa!” I mention this, not because you will find any enormous cup sizes at Coava (was that ever a thing?), but you will have a Meyers-esque response to the space itself. It’s massive, in an indoor hoops court or mid-size music venue sort of way.
Previously serving Portland as an old GM auto parts center and garage, this converted warehouse is jaw-dropping in just how vacant the room feels – the coffee shop only occupies about a third of the space. So while the front of the house bustles amid vintage roasting machines, tables supported by well-worn industrial equipment and lots of dark wood, the back two thirds of the space remain largely unused, save the company, Bamboo Revolution operating off of a single counter top in the back. And behind the bamboo builders, a set of windows offers a glimpse into the magic – the Coava roastery residing in a neighboring, equally voluminous space.
Oh, and the coffee. Right. It’s pretty incredible. The daily menu typically features two different, carefully sourced, single-origin beans (complete with all the flavor notes) from which to choose for your drink. And their descriptions are always spot on –if it says citrus-y maple, by Jove, it tastes like citrus-y maple. Everyone behind the counter is well-versed in the coffees and are happy to provide a recommendation based on the drink you choose.
Straight up espresso shots are perfectly pulled, but if you’re a true purist, go for the pour over coffee, brewed artfully through the glass Chemex systems, warming on the counter. And while I’m not a dairy-in-coffee guy myself, I did notice the award-winning baristas displaying their craft with heart-shaped foam topping off every cup. It’s pro-style, but with none of the pretense.
And that alone can be refreshing around here.