In a city full of excellent coffee, it's the tiny details that make Case Study Coffee's brand-new location stand out. It could be as simple as a barista's smile, a splash of house-made toasted hazelnut syrup from real hazelnuts, or realizing that the spidery chandelier above your head is really a twelve-foot model of caffeine molecule.
Case Study Coffee co-owner Wes Russell and his wife/business partner, Christine Herman, planned every detail of the Alberta space, infusing it with an updated mid-century modern aesthetic: The light fixture over the bar, designed by Russell, is a riff on Cold War-era Sputnik chandeliers; George Nelson bubble lamps float above the floor like fairy lights; and the minimalist Rowland 40/4 chairs were refinished to reflect the original taupe. Even the custom laser-etching on the new Synesso Hydra espresso machine was made to mimic the hand-painted chalkboard menu.
- Emily McIntyre
- Emily McIntyre
- Emily McIntyre
- Emily McIntyre
- Emily McIntyre
The duo's vision was executed in part by a team of baristas who earned their spots in the new cafe with sweat equity, sanding hundreds of walnut rails that cover the European-style curved bar, and scrubbing the strangely wet-looking floor made of Asian beach pebbles. "Working in this store before it opened has given me a strong sense of ownership and pride in the space," says Rachel Emery, the Alberta store manager. "Plus, I feel more knowledgeable about each design detail."
Unlike most roasters in this city, Case Study doesn't sell its coffee wholesale, instead choosing to focus on building cafe communities and roasting for retail. Co-owner Herman has done the roasting since the beginning, working out of a communal facility -- Mr. Green Bean in Southeast Portland. But soon she'll be able to move operations to the Alberta store, where a 1940s-era German-built roaster is being installed. In addition to its undeniable cool factor, the new roasting setup will allow Herman more flexibility, and encourage dialogue with interested customers.
Herman works closely with importers and farmers who are doing good through coffee production. For example, the Guatemala El Tambor that is currently on the shelves was sourced when Christine visited the farm last spring. There she saw first-hand how farmer Victor Calderon strives to improve his workers' lives. Ten percent of the farm is dedicated to growing food for the farmers, and each family is given a horse to use for transport.
Russell and Herman conceived of Case Study as a "case study" in every aspect of the coffee experience -- from the chemical changes ground coffee undergoes at 9 bars pressure and 200 +/- degrees Fahrenheit, to the nuances of satisfying customers and retaining good staff. James Niewinski, who manages the Sandy store, says, "Wes and Chris are the best owners I've ever worked with. They don't micromanage. They trust the people they hire."
With the opening of a third store, there are plenty of new faces on both sides of the counter. Baristas are dialing in their shots as well as their closing routines, and the inevitable cast of regulars is still forming as the neighborhood discovers the new addition in their midst. You could look at it all as a case study in starting a new coffeehouse community. Or you could just go check it out for yourself.
Editorial disclosure: After scheduling this piece, Emily McIntyre was hired by Case Study to do some work.
1171422 NE Alberta St
This place is amazing! I hate to say it, but I'm a coffee snob. So when I came to Portland, I was looking for excellent coffee. Case Study didn't disappoint for one second. Due to proximity, I came to the Alberta location which is so cool. Hidden in a tin shed, ironically next to Tin Shed restaurant (go here too!), Case study is brewing excellent coffee. The staff is knowledgable, offering great recommendations. I enjoyed their special, Cafe Con Miel. Holy crap, it's good. The decor itself is cool, simple, chic. My type of vibes. Outdoor seating is available as well. Highly recommended.
Super friendly baristas, cool looking place, good coffee, chairs a plenty without feeling crowded. Sounds like a perfect coffee spot, eh? Not much else you could ask for? Well, turns out, there is one more thing that works out greatly here. It's dog friendly! This is particularly awesome as Tin Shed is just next door. Just keep your pooch on the first floor, and well behaved of course, and the friendly baristas will welcome you on in for coffee. All me and my date got were two regular coffees. We stayed for about 30 minutes just chatting and were not rushed at all. The place maintained about 75% fullness on that Sunday morning. I do have to dock a star for Roman Candle pastries. Come on...no one likes those. Get your baked goods from Bakeshop or someone better. If OHSU coffee shops sell their baked goods, you know every other coffee shop should be able to do better.
Following a late lunch at Pine State Biscuits, I was looking for a place to park my laptop for the afternoon and selected nearby Case Study Coffee almost solely due to the Yelp-approved caffeine molecule chandelier. I picked up a pourover and placed myself on the upstairs balcony. Had the weather been slightly warmer, an afternoon outside would have been not unkind. Coffee was good, chair was a little uncomfortable, but my caffeinated brain and overworked laptop both left happy.
Very cute and cozy coffee shop with good tasting coffee! Friendly staff and nice ambiance. The outdoor sitting area in the little garden is a real treat too.
This is the closest coffee roaster to my home and my little three-year-old boy loves coming here for a steamer, it's one of the rare ones that put it in a ceramic cup for him. The barista's are always nice enough and the coffee is good enough, but like all cafés they are overpriced. It has a stark warehouse feel to it which is OK if that is what you like, I would prefer something more cozy and comfortable.
A friendly greeting early in the morning can be as good as a cup of coffee. Here, I got both. One barista was manning the shop this early weekday morning. The doors were all open letting the brisk, crispy summer morning air in with the sunlight. I order a pour over of their Ethiopia of the moment and my husband got a cappuccino. They were both very good. His drink came right out. Mine too 10 minutes. It was a nice place to sit and wait for it, but I really wanted it having eaten breakfast without coffee. There's a great area upstairs for people to work or gather. Lots of outlets and even a communal table. Once I had it, it was delicious. Very thin body but flavorful.
Love the coffee and the atmosphere. Favorite location. The staff is always friendly and helpful. We enjoy trying their fun and unique seasonal drinks. Always our first stop for coffee!
Good music, good coffee, and the nicest baristas in town. It's a very comfortable environment for me to have a coffee and read or get work done.
Stopped in here for a cappuccino while waiting for a table at Tin Shed. Really great ambiance and I love the layout. There are a couple tables on the lower level near the bar, and about a dozen tables in the loft area. A lot of people were getting work done here, so it was very quiet even though almost every table was full. They don't have any large tables, so this is a great place for solo or just meeting up with one or two friends. The cappuccino was great and really hit the spot on an unusually cold and rainy mid-June day. I wish I lived closer to this spot, as I could envision myself getting quite a bit of work done here.
This was a nice little coffee shop especially if you needed to spend some time doing work or studying. It was quiet and unassuming with an nice cold brew coffee. The balcony upstairs is particularly inviting as it's bright and airy. I also had a chocolate chip cookie which was probably a four on a scale of 1 to 10. Overall I wouldn't hesitate to go back if I needed to get work done in a quiet but inviting environment.
Stopped by for an afternoon pick-me-up in preparation for a late night. Cute and quiet coffee shop located next door to Tin Shed. Staff was fantastic and very friendly. I had seen a pic of the Toasted Hazelnut Latte and had to try it. My cup was sooo full, I had to sip it on the counter so that I could carry it. haha! No tables were left downstairs, so we crossed our fingers and ventured up the stairs. Found the last open table and grabbed 3 chairs. Atmosphere was rather quiet; people were studying or working, so I was a little worried we were a bit loud with our gabbing. My latte? It was a bit sweet for me. I should have tried something else, but will definitely need to return to try more of the menu.
Stopped briefly on our way to Seattle. It's a nice little place with a cozy atmosphere. The chai latte I ordered had a nice spicy kick to it. Definitely kept me warm.
Solid cup of coffee . I just went in for a cold brew on a hot day and couldn't be happier with the flavor . The space is super cool too , just a nice area to sit and read , have a conversation, or just relax on a nice afternoon .
The people behind the counters are incredibly sweet here!!! I came in here after having breakfast in the Tin Shed to see if they actually served tea. They do! And they happened to have my favorite tea which was a huge bonus. They also sell it in bulk (MUCH CHEAPER than te chai tea for the SAME TEA). They were sweet to answer my questions and even replace my thermos with that specific tea. That was a treat. There is also a place upstairs to relax and use wifi to sit around to do work if you want to. I wish they kind of had couches but then I probably never would have left. Great vibe here! I can't speak for the coffee sadly because I don't drink it but for tea drinkers, definitely recommend!
Terrible experience from start to finish. Worst coffee, had to ask them to remake it and the second one was equally bad. No place to sit because every table was occupied by loafers on their computers. Finally a table opened up, my friend and I were visiting while everyone around us gave us the stink eye because we apparently we were distributing them. It's a coffee shop not a library for God's sake. To top it off the staff was rude. I'll never go back, there are to many great coffee cafes in Portland to subject yourself to overpriced rude service.
I ordered an 8 oz coffee and it was 5 bucks. Was it worth it? NO. But the place is cool to hang out and come study. I like the mood. Can't find parking close if you come in at a rush hour. I had high hopes for this place. Will I come back? Sure, if I have no other option.
I don't know how this place has 4 1/2 stars. apparently none of the people that have reviewed of ever had their iced coffee. If I had to describe the taste of their ice coffee it would be A mix between fermented sewage water, and four day old coffee. Don't ever come here. I hope I don't get sick.
Lactose intolerant? Like almond milk lattes? Forced to drink almond milk secondary to aforementioned dairy issues? If so, this is the best iced almond milk latte I've had in Pdx. The milk has the least almond flavor I've had and really allows you to taste the coffee with just a hint of nutty goodness. Super awesome outdoor seating for the summer. Their cold brew isn't as good as others, but those lattes are delic!
Great coffee drink combo nations with a lot of flavor yet not over powering in sugar. This place is cute, affordable, and the service is friendly. Not much of a seating area but for the coffee I would come back.
We went to lunch nearby and figured we would check out Case Study Coffee after. The space almost has an industrial feel with the exposed cement and iron but they made it feel cozy with the warm wood. At first it doesn't seem like there is much seating but there's a whole upstairs area. It looks like in the summer they can roll up a large door and make the space more open with the outdoor patio. My latte was good but not outstanding. 3.5 stars.