Tandem Cafe & Roastery

A light bulb in the shape of a tandem bicycle from the wall of the Tandem Coffee Roasters Roastery Tandem Coffee has undergone many changes since I first visited its cafe & roastery on Anderson Street in 2015 at the start of my coast-to-coast train journey from Portland (Maine) to Portland (Oregon). Back then, Anderson was just a dirt road, the neighbourhood was very much up-and-coming and Tandem occupied a squat, two-room building, housing both cafe and roastery. These days, the neighbourhood is almost unrecognisable, packed with new shops, restaurants, bars, breweries and, of course, ever-present throughout, there’s Tandem.

The cafe now occupies both rooms, the roastery having moved to a second single-story brick building behind the first. These days, the counter is in the old roastery space, directly ahead as you enter, seating arranged around the walls and at the counter’s far end. Meanwhile, there’s more seating in the second room to your left, while you can also sit outside at a pair of picnic tables. Tandem’s concise espresso menu features a daily single-origin and decaf, while there are two/three single-origins on pour-over through the SP9/V60 (which can be had hot or iced). Alternatively, there’s batch brew, featuring either the Time & Temperature or West End Blues blends, cold brew and tea, plus a small range of cakes/pastries.

Note that Tandem has a second Portland location, the Tandem Coffee + Bakery (cunningly disguised as a gas station on Congress Street), while the roastery has its own Meet the Roaster feature.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • A familiar sight at the southern end of Anderson Road in Portland, Maine. This is 2023...
  • ... while this is how it looked on my first visit in 2015, albeit with a lot less greenery.
  • This is from the midpoint in 2019, when the greenery was on the rise, but not so riotous.
  • In case you missed it, we're talking about Tandom Coffee Roasters, which occupies...
  • ... this low, single-storey, brick-built building (seen here more clearly in 2015).
  • Well, I say Tandem Cafe and Roastery, but these days...
  • ... it's just the cafe, since there's a second, standalone building behind the first...
  • ... which has housed the Tandem Coffee Roastery since 2019.
  • Back to the cafe part of Tandem and a slightly different view. There's parking to the left...
  • ... and these days there are two picnic tables outside under the shade of the tree.
  • And, throughout it all, the Tandem logo/sign has stood proudly on the threshold.
  • There is a back door to Tandem, used to get to/from the roastery, but the staff would...
  • ... prefer you to use the front door, which is in the crook of the L.
  • Stepping inside, this was the view that greeted you in 2015: it's the roastery!
  • By 2019, the roastery was in the other building, and this room was a training area.
  • Since 2022, however, you're greeted by the counter, which is directly across from the door.
  • There's also seating here, starting with these two stools to the right of the door.
  • The seating continues along the right-hand wall (photo from December 2022)...
  • ... where you'll find this L-shaped window bar in the back corner.
  • Finally, you can also sit on one of five stools at the far end of the counter.
  • Talking of which, here's a view of the counter from the far side of Tandem...
  • ... and here's a view (from December 2022) of the wall opposite...
  • And now we're back in the corner we started in, next to the retail shelves.
  • However, there's more. Look across the counter, to the left of the door...
  • ... and you'll see the second of Tandem's two rooms.
  • This has a very simple layout, with a continuous bench running around all three walls...
  • ... with seven coffee tables dotted around the room. Those with long memories will...
  • ... recall that this rooom used to house the counter (photo from my 2015 visit).
  • Now it provides additional seating in a very quiet, relaxing space.
  • I'm pleased to say that this light display hasn't changed over the years. This is from 2015...
  • ... while this is from December 2022, when it was decked out for Christmas.
  • Meanwhile, it was back to its normal self when I returned in July 2023.
  • This is its counterpart in the other room, a new addition which hangs over the counter.
  • There are other neat touches, such as the exposed timber beams of both ceilings...
  • ... while I'm also very fond of the panels of bare brick which break up the walls.
  • There's also plenty of greenery inside Tandem to match the expanded range outside!
  • The corner between the two rooms has always had retail shelves. These days it's the...
  • ... home of the coffee equipment (top), while the drawers below house vinyl records.
  • There's also a range of Tandem/Portland branded merchandising.
  • The shelves used to house a range of beans for sale. The full selection is displayed on...
  • ... the counter-top, with this new set of shelves in the corner holding the actual bags.
  • This is new (to me): Tandem offers a discount to customers bringing their own container.
  • This goes with the existing 25c surcharge if you want a single-use cup.
  • The menu is on the wall to the left of the counter, while the cakes are on the counter top.
  • This is also where you'll find the day's granola.
  • All the shots are pulled on the La Marzocco GB5 further along the counter.
  • This has two grinders, one for the single-origin of the day, the other for decaf.
  • Pour-overs, meanwhile, are handled by the two Marco SP9s at the back, using the V60.
  • You'll also find Tandem's vinyl collection and turntable back here.
  • Over the years, I've tried a lot of Tandem's coffee. This is from 2015, a single-origin...
  • ... espresso, while this is a pour-over made from the same bean.
  • Another visit, another single-origin espresso, this time from 2019...
  • ... while Amanda came too and had this cappuccino, using the Time & Temperature blend.
  • Moving on to my most recent visit, I had this lovely cortado, again made with the...
  • ... single-origin espresso and served in a glass. Finally, Tandem has been a recipient...
  • ... on the coffee-go-round. I left this, from Pretty Coffee Roasting of New Orleans...
  • ... in 2022, while this, from Primary Coffee in Sydney, is from my most recent visit.
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Tandem Coffee Roasters’ Cafe and Roastery is at the southern end of Anderson Street, near its corner with Fox Street, in Portland’s East End. Tandem occupies a squat, modern-looking, brick-built L-shaped building that actually dates from the 1930s and looks considerably prettier than my description implies. There’s free parking onsite or out on the street, although Tandem is an easy walk from central Portland if you’re relying on public transport.

If you want to sit outside, there are a pair of picnic tables out front, partly shaded by a mature, leafy tree, while there’s plenty more seating inside. The door, in the crook of the L, leads to the first of two rooms. This used to be the roastery, before it relocated to the building behind this one, but now it houses the counter, an ‘n’ shaped affair which occupies the left-hand wall.

The till is directly ahead of you, while the seating runs along the right-hand and back walls, starting with a pair of stools at a window-bar in the front corner. Next comes a set of retail shelves, then a takeaway station, before an L-shaped bar takes up what’s left of the right-hand wall, continuing across the back wall, seating seven in all. Finally, there are five stools in an L at the counter, two down the side and three along the back.

If you don’t fancy sitting here, turn left, where you’ll find more seating in what was originally the coffee bar and is now the quieter, more relaxed of the two spaces. This has a roughly square floor plan, with a bench with seven small tables running around three of the four walls, while the fourth, to your right as you enter, has retail shelves for merchandising, coffee kit and vinyl.

Both rooms are cheerful spots, with regular windows and mainly whitewashed, plastered walls, punctuated with occasional expanses of bare brick for contrast. This all combines with tiled floors and open, wooden ceiling beams to give both spaces a bright, clean feel.

Tandem’s offering has evolved over the years, but it’s always been designed to show off the output from the roastery. These days, the concise espresso menu features a daily single-origin, with the Sun Lamp Decaf on the second grinder. If you prefer filter coffee, then there’s batch brew, typically featuring the Time & Temperature or West End Blues blends, or you can sample more of the single-origin range by ordering a pour-over, made using the Marco SP9 automated system using the V60. There’s usually a choice of two or three single-origins each day.

Over the years, I’ve tried pretty much all of the various coffees on offer from Time & Temperature through the various single-origins on espresso or pour-over. Most recently, I had a gorgeous cortado, served in a glass, and made with a Colombian single-origin that was sweet and funky, the coffee’s fruity notes coming clearly through the milk.

Tandem is also doing its best to reduce waste, with initiatives including a $0.25 charge for customers who want their coffee in a disposable cup, and discounts for retail customers who bring their own containers when buying coffee beans (or ground coffee). I thoroughly support both these ideas and would love to see more coffee shops take them up.

July 2023: this is an updated version of the original post which was published in July 2015. You can see what has changed in my Coffee Spot Update. Meanwhile, there was a previous Coffee Spot Update in February 2020, not long after the roastery moved out, so you can also see what I thought of Tandem then.

www.tandemcoffee.com +1 207 899 0235
Monday 08:00 – 13:00 Roaster Tandem (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 08:00 – 13:00 Seating Bar, Counter, Table (outside)
Wednesday 08:00 – 13:00 Food Cakes
Thursday 08:00 – 13:00 Service Counter
Friday 08:00 – 13:00 Payments Cards + Cash
Saturday 08:00 – 13:00 Wifi No
Sunday CLOSED Power No
Chain Local Visits Original: 4th June 2015
Updates: 3rd August 2019, 25th January 2020
7th December 2022, 12th July 2023

If you enjoyed this Coffee Spot, then take a look at the rest of Portland’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Portland.

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20 thoughts on “Tandem Cafe & Roastery

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  3. Looks like a quaint little place.. I was giggling when reading your Blog thinking that you must really really like coffee haha!! The only issue I have is their seats, they look very uncomfortable! In a place like that they could do with a pop of red lounge suites!

    • I confess, they’re not great if you want/need back support, but otherwise the bar stools are very, very comfortable. Perhaps Jason, if he’s reading this, would care to comment since he goes there more than I do!


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