One of our favorite things to do is hang out for a couple of hours in the morning at an inviting coffee house while we read, research, catch up on the news, or blog. Every city has the stereotypical places like Starbuck’s or Peet’s which, truthfully, are not very interesting. On our exploratory trip to Eugene, we wanted to check out the local businesses so I did a lot of research in advance and chose a different “coffee stop” for each day. We were surprisingly pleased with what we discovered.
We started out at Noisette Pastry Kitchen where the owners, Tobi and Michael who boast years of culinary training, say they use traditional methods to create innovative food experiences. With a focus on using local products, they put forth an array of French inspired pastries, birthday and specialty cakes, cookies, and just about any other sweet treat you might imagine all baked in-house. On our visit we could not resist their popular almond-crusted Bostock made with orange blossom water which made it very distinctive. Along with their tasty confections they serve up Equiano Coffee, a locally developed specialty coffee from Eugene that my husband reported was especially smooth — totally to his liking. Their chai latte (always my drink of choice) was quite spicy and not too sweet. It reminded more of the delicious one I make at home with an actual chai teabag rather than a mix from a box — very delicious. In addition, Noisette has recently added to their repertoire by transforming into the “Salt & Sweet Wine Bar” on Friday-Sunday evenings when they offer cold and hot plates, wine, and table service. We liked Noisette so much that we returned and made it our last stop before leaving town.
Allann Brothers has been roasting specialty coffee since 1972. They have seven locations in Oregon with two in Eugene. We stopped in at their Beanery located in a beautiful old brick building formerly a train station. The selection of pastries here was quite varied also but obviously made elsewhere. We devoured two large apple turnovers that were chock full of apples. Super tasty! Coffee here was smooth as well and the spicy chai was pleasantly sweet and flavorful. The atmosphere was quieter than most coffee houses with no hard surfaces to create loud echoes of voices throughout the space. This worked very well for us since we were meeting with a couple, the son and daughter-in-law of a friend, who had recently moved to Eugene. It was nice to be able to hear each other without the bang and clang of coffee equipment or distraction of other people’s conversations.
Full City Coffee Roasters has two locations in Eugene. We visited the High City Café where we had yet another satisfying coffee and chai experience. The owner has been roasting coffee since the 80’s and beans are roasted on the day they are sold resulting in very fresh coffee. Food items here which include pastries, sandwiches, soups, quiche, and Cornish pies (which I know as pasties) are provided by their local sister company, The Palace Bakery. We sampled a raspberry muffin and an oat & raisin scone — both quite good. The only drawback to this place is that, unlike all the others, they don’t have wifi. So, unless you have a 3G connection (like we do), you’re limited to using your phone, but perhaps you can appreciate not being surrounded by so much technology. You can relax and have an actual conversation with someone here which is certainly worth considering.
Vero Espresso House is a quaint coffee hangout located in one of many old homes turned businesses in downtown Eugene. They serve Stumptown Coffee which is a Portland-based company recently purchased by Peet’s. Stumptown is a nickname for Portland from the early days when land was quickly cleared of trees and the stumps were left behind. They also have a selection of pastries as well as breakfast and lunch items prepared by various local businesses. The seating here while very inviting is limited. It’s the kind of place where people settle in and stay for a while especially since it’s near the U of O campus. On the day we chose to visit, it was very crowded so we were forced to make another choice for our breakfast and plan to return another time.
Typically when Norman drinks coffee out in our hometown, he often finds it very harsh and too strong. He always adds a lot of half and half in order to temper the after effect. He usually ends up with heartburn requiring a dose of antacids that I make sure to carry around for him. What was most interesting about all of the coffee Norman drank in Eugene (which included many other places) was that never once did he have this negative experience. We can’t help but wonder if it was the coffee, the water, the state or simply that here in the Silicon Valley people have become accustomed to and demand such a jolt of caffeine to fuel their money-driven, hectic lives. At the very least, the coffee was a great reflection of the more laid back environment we found in Eugene — one we are extremely anxious to enjoy very soon on a regular basis.