Thursday, October 25, 2018

Driftwood - Coffee Anyone?

Kara is a small woman with a lot of energy. She’s the owner of Driftwood Coffee, offering a genuine smile and greeting to everyone who walks in the door. The sign outside tells us that this particular establishment is, “More Than Expected,” and it most certainly is. 

Several people have written to me about Driftwood Coffee as a place deserving of a visit for this column, and I finally got the chance to drop in. I’m really glad I did. The experience was that of stepping into an old friend’s place; warm and inviting. 

The Portland-casual environment is what struck me the most; three or four burlap coffee bags adorn the wall across from the coffee bar. Everything in the room is carefully and tastefully placed around a space which is not large, nor is it small. Let’s just call it comfortable. This is not a manufactured comfort, stamped out to strike a niche-specific-chord-of-familiarity with wild-eyed hordes of desperately salivating caffeine seekers, but rather a simple, thoughtful placement of tables and chairs, and a corner near the front door invitingly decked with a couple of couches, facing one another across a simple coffee table. A few magazines and books are stored on a lower shelf for those who’re looking for a little light reading material. There are a few locally made items such as hats, clothing, and jewelry offered for sale along with a good selection of coffees, teas, Italian sodas, and let’s not forget the Breakfast Sandwich selections. I had a mocha coffee and a “Dave and an Egg” which turned out to be a slice of Dave’s Killer Bread with my choice (over easy) of egg. 

The coffee/chocolate mixture was smooth and delicious. I heroically declined the whipped cream. The breakfast sandwich was killer indeed. A little hot sauce on top made it perfection. 

While I enjoyed my breakfast, seated where I could watch all the action on one of the couches, I watched a steady stream of folks come in and order. A couple of older guys reading newspapers sat at a table across the room next to a young couple who had eyes only for one another. At the next table over, four women discussed the world with plenty of laughs all around. A young writer peered at his laptop screen while sipping something delicious-looking from a large mug. A family of four wide-eyed travelers stepped down out of their home-on-wheels and traipsed in the door. The two kids promptly began oohing-and-aweing over the selection of goodies, while mom and dad went directly to the counter to order coffee and a dragonfly chai. I don’t know what the kids eventually ordered in the way of drinks, but I know for sure that one little girl got herself a beautifully woven bracelet and her brother scored himself a very cool hat, with what looked to be a painting of a killer whale above the brim.  

Pastries of all kinds are offered at Driftwood Coffee, including some gluten free and vegan options. I only managed to avoid their come-hither tastiness because of my iron will; enough said? 

There is some small concern that the paving project on Vermont will hurt business somewhat from now through November, but there’s also hope that folks will continue to seek out this little gem of a coffee place that will never, and I mean never, entertain the idea of robot coffee baristas. 

This where to go to hang out with friends, to talk, to read, or to just relax and gaze out the window as cars roll by on Vermont Street at 46th. After all, what’s the hurry? More than expected? Absolutely!

4604 SW Vermont St, Portland, OR 97219
Phone: (503) 246-4706

Evaluation: Extraordinarily Sincere

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