I started this blog because I frequent Portland’s coffeehouses and enjoy trying new blends and brews of independently roasted coffee. For the most part, I am a big fan of our city’s coffee scene and the variety of coffees available for consumption. But every once in a blue moon, there’s a cup of Joe that sticks out not because of how great it tastes, but rather the opposite .

Now being more of a coffee-drinking fan than an expert in the art of bean-roasting, I have to admit I don’t know if it’s the roasting or the brewing that ultimately results in a bad cup of coffee. But sadly, on a recent trip to Coffee Time, an-always-bustling coffeehouse that is one of the few, if not the only, cafes to stick around on NW 21st Ave., the coffee was bitter and burnt beyond drinking, an experience that’s not entirely atypical in the years I’ve been stopping by.

Notes on Coffee Time…

Location: Founded in 1994 and according to its website under new ownership since 2005, Coffee Time is located at 712 NW 21st, just a block away from Cinema 21. In fact, that’s how we came to know and love Coffee Time in the late 1990s. Without a TV, our entertainment consisted of the independent and foreign movies playing nightly at Cinema 21. Before or after a show, we’d grab a coffee, which even in those days wasn’t the best in the world but could get you through a late-night showing. Coffee Time is great for early birds and night owls, opening at 6:30 a.m. and closing at 2:30 a.m.

Coffee: In the old days of Coffee Time, I am not sure what brand they sold, but the cappuccinos they served always reminded me of the kind I used to get when teaching English in Eastern Europe — slightly bitter coffee topped with foam and a generous amount of cinnamon. On a visit at the beginning of the year, my coffee arrived so burnt-tasting, it had to be tossed. According to Coffee Time, they serve specially roasted light and dark roasts of the Panache blend, from Portland’s own Coffee Bean International, the folks behind the Public Coffee Domain coffeehouse that has gotten such great reviews and I’m hoping to visit soon. Not sure what’s gone wrong at Coffee Time, but it could be time to check the coffee machine, the beans or something.

Cool stuff: Despite the coffee, Coffee Time is an awesome place to hang out, chat, read and study. The place attracts loads of students, by the looks of the study groups that converge, as well as neighbors and passers-by. On a cool, damp day in Portland, there’s nothing better than getting a warm drink (preferably tea) and sitting outside on the sidewalk under the heated lamps. Or if you like the coziness of a cave, you can find a very private booth in the very private backroom.

Not so cool: ‘Nuff said.

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