Years ago, we lived near Multnomah Village in the hills of Southwest Portland behind downtown, and though a large Starbucks greeted visitors at the top of the road that wound through the village, our coffee-stimulated hearts beat for the little bedroom-sized cafe called Village Coffee. At Village Coffee, you could — and still can — curl up with a heavy white mug of coffee and a dog-eared magazine from the wall rack, share a toasted bagel with your kids or dog and watch the Villagers and visitors meander along the lazy main street. Where Starbucks a block away bustles with busy customers like businesspeople, Girl Scout troop leaders and runners who hurry in and out with their triple-shot fancy drinks, Village Coffee offers a slower, more familiar pace — like settling down in an old friend’s kitchen.

One of my favorite Village Coffee stories has nothing to do with the coffee but everything to do with its laid-back, neighborly feel. When my child was a toddler, she used to clutch a small, fist-sized stuffed animal in each hand on every outing or at bedtime. There was a hippo called “Hippo,” a bird called “Birdie” and a pig called “Mousey” because it bore more of a resemblance to a naked lab mouse than a pig. One day, these little stuffed friends went missing. We searched every inch of the car and stroller and re-traced our steps, all to no avail. Until one day, several weeks later, I walked into Village Coffee, ordered my single latte and looked up at the tall glass case that holds the baked goods and dog treats and saw Hippo, Birdie and Mousey perched atop the case. I exclaimed loudly and excitedly that those were my child’s stuffed animals and then found myself awkwardly asking the barista if I could have them back. This particular coffee slinger, whose dreamy eyes and deep voice made the Village’s sleep-deprived new moms swoon, smiled and said with a puzzled shrug: Why not, they’re yours, aren’t they?

Notes on Village Coffee…

Where: Village Coffee is smack in the middle of the sometimes elusive and bucolic Multnomah Village at 7781 S.W. Capitol Highway, next to one of the Village’s iconic antique stores and across the street from the awesome Thinker Toys toy store.

Coffee: I don’t recall what Village Coffee served when I was a new mom and living in the neighborhood. Whatever it was, it tasted fine and kept me awake. I recently stopped by Village Coffee for a cup of coffee in one of their signature heavy white mugs and discovered they now serve Cafeto, an organic, fair trade, independently roasted coffee from Eugene, Oregon. The Americano I had had a mild, smooth flavor, and what’s not to like about organic and fair trade?

Cool stuff: Lots of magazines to read, old-fashioned movie theater seats with a view out the front picture window, old guys from the Village hanging out and playing guitar, very kid and dog friendly.

Not so cool: When the weather turns wet, Village Coffee gets humid and the picture windows fog up and condense like a badly ventilated 1968 VW bug.

Lost and found at Village Coffee

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