Stepping through the doors of Ristretto Roasters on Nicolai Street is like watching my inner hopes and dreams materialize. In an old, historic building of brick, factory windows and warm gloom, it is as though every old novel I read in elementary school came to life.
Portland, well known for that sticky, cement-grey, foggy gloom, hides this bright little gem in the industrial district. Edison bulbs of bare perfection illuminate all the windows, luring in those who are ready to get out of the damp drizzle and enjoy a great cup of coffee.
Nestled in the front of the Schoolhouse Electric building, the vast stretch of blond wood flooring is taken up mainly by vintage-style, 40’s-inspired industrial home décor for sale. Wall hangings, classic couches and pretty knickknacks harken back to an era that only exists in the imagination. Cafe seats are built upon colorful library drawers — remember the Dewey Decimal System? Everything is bright and cozy and illuminated by more old-school lightbulbs than can possibly be counted.
For those poking around the building (raise your hand if you’re a snoop like me!) train tracks run directly behind the building, the heavy rumble adding to the surreal industrial atmosphere.
Part library, part home, part factory, part schoolhouse, this lovely space couldn’t be more conducive to productivity. It’s like settling into the living room of a nice librarian.
The music is upbeat and eclectic, playing plenty of Johnny Cash and Ella Fitzgerald. And the coffee is ridiculously good. Ristretto Roasters is known for having several shops, but this particular atmosphere can’t be beat.
All in all? This is proving to quickly be one of my favorite hangouts. It was the second coffee shop I visited in Portland when I visited back in September, and I can recall settling into the warm space, watching affirmation after affirmation pile up after meeting our first encouraging local.
Now, two months later, the space has stayed the same and I have changed. This time I can walk back to a tiny apartment nearby and come and go as I please.
For anyone looking for good coffee and friendly ambience, I can’t recommend it enough.