A few weeks ago, my husband and I made a deal. We decided that we needed to step up our self-care game. He joined a gym and I’m taking Wednesday nights off from mom-duty. He chooses sweating and suffering through sore muscles, and I choose to sit in one of many Portland coffee shops, sipping Chai while scrolling mindlessly through Jimmy Fallon clips.
After a month or so of this new regimen, I can definitely say that both my husband and I are better off for it. He’s losing weight and I’m getting to close-out a few of the open tabs in my mommy brain and breathe. But this isn’t about self-care; I want to talk about Portland’s coffee shops.
I’m unapologetically a creature of habit. Wednesday night rolls around and I head to my go-to place. Every now and again, though, I feel brave and branch out to try a new spot. While each place certainly has its own unique vibe, there are definitely similarities across the board. Here are four reasons why I love Portland’s coffee shops:
1. The Portland Coffee Snob
This person roles in about every twenty minutes. They’re already flustered by the time they get to the counter, and the hand-written, hard to read, chalkboard menu just adds to their mood. They shake the rain off their oversized umbrella and start digging around for their vegan leather wallet. I’m not always close enough to the counter to hear the conversations verbatim, but the body language of both the customer and the barista give me all I need to fill in the blanks. It starts with three or four questions about the coffee: when was it brewed, was it locally-sourced, what kind of roast, etc. That usually leads to a discussion of milk substitute options, followed closely with a sigh that, thank God, they have hemp milk. The order is placed, with instructions for agave nectar, rather than sugar as a sweetener, and the soon-to-be flustered AND caffeinated customer finds a table and settles in.
2. The Post-Workout Crew
Next follows in the group of gals just coming off a workout. They’ve been sweating and burning calories for the last hour or so and are now ready to hydrate…at the coffee shop. The majority of the gals stick to the theme of the night and go for straight decaf tea, no cream or sweetener. Then there’s the wild card. The risk-taker. The edge-walker who throws caution to the wind as soon as her neon, Nike-clad feet leave the treadmill. Her order is usually something like a triple venti, white chocolate mocha, with whip and chocolate syrup drizzle. And does anyone want to split a poppy-seed muffin? I always want to high-five that girl. No regrets, babe.
3. The Loud Table
These folks are, without fail, at all coffee shops I frequent. Sometimes it’s a table full of loud talkers; other times it’s a couple with zero volume control or concern for the fact that we can all hear their conversation about the bladder issues of their little dog. Mostly, it’s just one person on a phone call or watching funny videos with their head phones. Regardless, these boisterous tables make for fine Wednesday night entertainment.
4. The Weird Art and Bad Music
Currently, the place I’m in is pumping a strange blend of jazz and techno. It’s a rough mix that doesn’t work at all and yet totally fits the Portland ambiance. To my left is a painting of a rock. Just a rock. And to my right is a 3-D piece of what I think is supposed to be an eye, but might also be a cored apple or maybe a small sea creature. Regardless, the combo of bad music and weird art is pairing perfectly with my spicy Chai.
Portland mamas, if you’ve got an evening to sneak away, head to one of Portland’s coffee shops. Order your favorite hot beverage and settle in for an evening of quality entertainment. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll roll your eyes, and you’ll head back home feeling refreshed and ready for the rest of the week.