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Review of Portola Coffee Roasters

My family and I were making our regular trip to Mecca (a.k.a. Disneyland). My wife is a creature of habit; but this time, I got her to try something new. I did some research for stuff to do around Disneyland...surprise, there isn't much. I found a poorly designed website for Old Town Orange. It is a really cool little strip of red brick buildings and boutique shops (a lot of antiques). There are also some really good restaurants. The kicker for going here was that I would get to try a coffee shop for a blog. Lo and behold, Portola Coffee Roaster is there.


Now, my fantastic experience with Portola started well before my first sip. When I was researching them (www.Portolacoffeelab.com), it showed that the Orange County site was "coming soon." I emailed them and explained that I was visiting and wanted to know if their shop had opened so I could visit. Within a day or two one of the manager responded to my inquiry. We went back and forth coordinating when I would visit, she provided some restaurant recommendations (which we were glad we took) and then Cc'ed the supervisor for that location so they knew I was coming. This level of service had me so excited to visit this location and set my expectations pretty high.

We made it to Old Town Orange and enjoyed the feel of the place. If you are ever at Disney and want to get away from the hype, this is a great place to go. We went to dinner and then made our way to the coffee shop.

This shop is somewhat unique. It is actually a store within a store. The Provisions Market is shared space. They sell beer and wine, food, and in the front Portola has a coffee station (I mean, what more do you need?). The feel inside is very comfortable, using dark woods and wine barrels in the decor.

I parked the family at a table and started my assessment.

Firstly, I noticed the whole bean coffee set up. They stage each back below a card that describes where the coffee is from and other important information. I loved this. Secondly, they offered very few options on the menu and the price was dramatically higher than anything I have paid before. I am a strong believer in being awesome at a few things, rather than being just okay at a lot of things. I am also a believer in charging based on value. So, I was shocked initially, but than rationalized it and agreed. Lastly, I noticed the brewing methods. They use the V60 (thank you!) and the Trifecta, which I understood as an automated Aeropress (www.trifectaexperience.com/BrewerBio.aspx).





The barista I worked with was Tom. I was supposed to speak with Josh but they switched shifts. They had their stuff together though, because Tom was informed that I would be stopping by. What a pleasure to be served by him. He smiled, he shook my hand. He knew the industry, he knew his company, he knew how to serve. He was spending a bit more time with me than other customers and was very good at making sure everyone received the same level of service without making me feel like I was a third wheel or forgotten. I took his recommendation on the Elida Honey. He started working on the brew and noticed that I was taking pictures, so he stopped and moved the scale and V60 over to the front table so I could get a better shot. (It's the small things, people.) One of the more interesting things was his method of brewing in the V60. I wish I would have asked him, but I felt like I was afraid of overstaying my welcome. The piece that thought interesting was that he lifted the V60 and let it drop a couple of times in the middle of the brew. That seems a little contradictory to my understanding of the V60. If someone knows the purpose for this, please let me know.



The coffee was served in a carafe on a wood flat with a cup and spoon. A simple and elegant presentation. I have had a honey coffee before, so I had some expectations. This coffee met all of them. The aroma was that of a floral honey. The color was like a dark earl grey tea. It started of juicy and then finished dry. It also became almost syrupy as it cooled. I did not pick up the "stewed peaches, black cherry, vanilla, candied lemon" that the website describes. I'm just not good enough to pick those out without knowing it before hand. Regardless, this was a very tasty cup of coffee.

Overall, yes, please go visit this location. The area is awesome. The coffee is awesome. I strongly recommend it.



P.S. - Portola, if you read this, give Tom a raise. He is worth it.

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