To celebrate Brian’s Travel Spot reaching the West Coast and the Columbia Gorge, I present Stoked Roasters and Coffeehouse in Hood River, on the Oregon side of the amazing Columbia Gorge. That I even know about Stoked is down to Chloe, aka The Faerietale Foodie, who visited a few months before me and informed me of this wonderful find.
Stoked is indicative of the spread of speciality coffee outside of the big America cities. Both roaster and coffeehouse, a model much more common in the US than it is in the UK, Stoked roasts all its coffee in the store itself on a lovely San Franciscan roaster. You can buy all the output, a mixture of single-origins and blends, from a retail shelf by the door. As is often the case in the US, the beans, even for the single-origins, are typically roasted more darkly than in the UK.
When it comes to the coffeehouse side of the business, Stoked offers a wide range of drinks, including house-blend, single-origin and decaf on espresso, the obligatory bulk brew and hand-poured filter on the V60. While I was there, there was a choice between three single-origins and, unusually for filter, two blends.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
On my previous visit to Hood River, exactly 10 years ago, neither Stoked, nor the area it inhabits, between the freeway and the river, existed. Back then it was industrial area and, to be honest, it wasn’t that tempting. Now all that has gone, replaced, two years ago, by a pleasant, river-front park.
Stoked, occupying a rather austere-looking building across the street from the park, had just celebrated its first birthday the week before my visit. The floor-to-ceiling windows afford excellent views across the park to the gorge beyond and you can also sit outside at a four-person bar in front of the door.
Inside, high ceilings ensure that it’s both bright and airy. It has a very clean look, with white walls, wooden ceiling and an uncluttered layout. The only exception is around the counter, where the left-hand wall is a bold red and while behind the counter it’s black, serving as a large chalkboard for the menu.
Stoked occupies a rectangular space, although the back left-hand corner, behind the counter, is given over to a kitchen area, the resulting floor-plan resembling a fat letter L. You enter in the left-hand corner, at the front, the counter immediately ahead of you, retail shelves to your left, the rest of Stoked (plus counter) stretching away to the right.
Directly in front of you, the counter’s laden with cake, giving way to the till to your right, then a rack of V60s, before the counter wraps around the kitchen area. Here you’ll find the espresso machine and its grinders, an arrangement which I adore since it means that you can watch the baristas at work from the till, with a clear view of the business-end of the espresso machine.
A long window-bar runs from by the door almost the full length of Stoked. Beyond the counter, things open up to the back, with a row of four, plastic bucket seats, along with their own coffee table, facing with the window. Behind them is an eight-person communal table and beyond that, against the back wall and beneath an angled mirror, is a wooden bench with three small, round tables. The only other seating is at a short bar which separates the roasting area from the rest of the coffeehouse. This is at the far right-hand end, where the windows (and window-bar) stop. Roasting takes place here two/three times a week and is always a major draw.
I was well-looked after by Devon, my barista, and her colleagues, Jamie and Kalista. During my visit, the three-bean house-blend and a Ugandan single-origin were on espresso. Never having had a Ugandan single-origin before, I went for that, even though Devon warned me it was the brighter of the two. It had an interesting taste, not too bright, with a very full mouth-feel. A well-balanced coffee, it wasn’t what I was expecting and, given my reservations, was surprisingly good.
I followed that up with a V60 of the Ethiopian, the lightest-roasted of the three single-origins on offer. It was extremely well-made, with great body and a smooth, subtle, fruity flavour, easily the best pour-over of the entire trip. I paired it with three bite-sized tea cookies, described by Devon as like nutty shortbread, which was spot on, making them the perfect accompaniment to my coffee.
|603 PORTWAY AVENUE #103 • HOOD RIVER • OR 97031 • USA|
|Monday||07:30 – 17:00||Roaster||Stoked (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||07:30 – 17:00||Seating||Tables, Bars|
|Wednesday||07:30 – 17:00||Food||Cake, Lunch|
|Thursday||07:30 – 17:00||Service||Counter|
|Friday||07:30 – 17:00||Cards||Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||08:00 – 17:00||Wifi||Free|
|Sunday||08:00 – 17:00||Power||Yes|
|Chain||No||Visits||13th June 2015|
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