Little Woodfords

The Little Woodfords sign, hanging outside the store on Forest Avenue in Portland, Maine. It's a design based on the clock tower which sits atop of the building and reads "little woodfords | coffee + snacks".Little Woodfords is in the Woodfords Corner neighbourhood of Portland, just west of Back Cove. The staff at Tandem Coffee Roasters tipped me off when I was visiting Amanda last summer and, while we popped in on that trip, I didn’t have a chance to write it up. As a result, on my return to Portland last week, I made it a priority to call in, visiting one sunny Tuesday morning.

Little Woodfords occupies a bright, spacious spot on the busy Forest Avenue, close to its junction with Woodford Street. It’s fairly small, but feels much bigger thanks to the high ceilings (I would guess at least 4 metres) and a tall bay window that runs the full width of the store front, catching the midday and afternoon sun.

The coffee’s from Vivid Coffee Roasters in Vermont, with a single option on espresso, batch brew and flash brew (a pour-over over ice, akin to a Japanese iced coffee). The coffee changes every six months, Little Woodfords working with Vivid to select the particular bean/blend. There’s also tea, hot cocoa and several latte-based specials. If you’re hungry, there’s a small breakfast menu, with various toppings on bagels/biscuits, complete with gluten-free options.

July 2020: following the landlord doubling the rent at Little Woodford’s original location, it has relocated to downtown Portland on Congress Street. You can see what I made of it when Amanda and I visited on my return to Portland in November 2021.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Little Woodfords at the far end of an elegant, brick building on the corner of...
  • ... Forest Avenue (which is this road) and Woodford Street.
  • The view coming the other way, heading from the corner along Forest Avenue.
  • The door is inset on the left, next to this four-paned bay window.
  • The window display says it all really.
  • Coffee for two? That would be perfect.
  • The logo, by the way, is inspired by the clock tower which adorns the top of the building.
  • It's also on the door.
  • One of the neatest sets of opening times that I've seen in ages! Let's go in!
  • Stepping inside, the counter is directly ahead of you, at the back on the left.
  • Turning around, this is the view of the front of Little Woodfords, door on the left.
  • The first of the the two tall tables in the window, which act as as a pair of window bars.
  • And the view the other way. There's parking outside on the street, by the way.
  • There are two rows of tables running front-to-back in the middle of the room.
  • Here's one of two tables in the first row...
  • ... and here's the other (photo by Little Woodfords).
  • The second table, seen from the other side. There's another row of three tables...
  •  ... next to that, then two more tables against the right-hand wall.
  • There's more seating down the right-hand side of the counter...
  • ... while opposite that is a two-person sofa and a low coffee table.
  • Finally, there's a water/take-away station on the right...
  • ... while Little Woodfords continues down a short, broad corridor...
  • ... to a flight of stairs that leads enticingly down.
  • Sadly there's no basement seating, just a toilet, although it's well worth a visit!
  • Little Woodfords through the looking glass.
  • Little Woodfords is full of neat, thoughtful touches, such as these hooks under the tables.
  • Little Woodfords is also a very green space. For example, these plants are in the window.
  • ... while these are on the counter.
  • These are at the back, the colours matching very well with the tasting wheels on the wall!
  • More pictures and plants.
  • Here's the logo again (it's actually in the toilet downstairs!).
  • Little Woodfords has some very well-stocked retail shelves to your left as you enter.
  • There's a handy price list.
  • There's the usual selection of coffee making kit, plus some extras...
  • ... beneath which are the retail bags of coffee, including some local roasters...
  • ... and a selection from Vivid Coffee Roasters in Vermont.
  • This is the current Little Woodford house coffee (for the start of 2020).
  • As well as the coffee-related material, there's also tea and other bits and pieces.
  • Down to business. You order at the counter at the back...
  • ... where you'll find the menus on the wall to the left...
  • ... and the espresso end of the operation on the corner to the right.
  • Amanda and I visited last summer for breakfast. I had a cortado, served in a glass...
  • ... and fried egg and cheese in a biscuit.
  • Amanda, meanwhile, had a cherry and almond scone...
  • ... and a cappuccino.
  • Check out the latte art!
  • On my (solo) return last week, I had another cortado...
  • ... with some excellent latte art.
  • I was there for breakfast again, having the avocado toast (on a bagel).
  • I also tried the coffee as an espresso, served with a glass of sparkling water on the side.
  • It's a washed Honduran single-origin, by the way, from Ervin Lopez...
  • ... and it tasted every bit as good as it looked, which is where I'll leave you.
Slider Script by v4.6

Little Woodfords is on the ground floor of an elegant, three-storey brick building that fills the triangular plot at the corner of Forest Avenue and Woodford Street. Topped by an equally elegant two-storey clock tower that overlooks the corner, the building is an excellent landmark, with Little Woodfords at the far end on the Forest Avenue side.

Little Woodfords has single, glass door, inset on the left and a large, four-paned bay window on the right, while spanning both, the large, white space above is adorned with the single word “coffee”. Stepping inside, the counter is straight ahead, at the back on the left, past a set of retail shelves on the left-hand wall, while the seating is off to your right, starting with a pair of high tables which act as window bars. Each seats four on tall stools, while the tables have hooks underneath where you can hang your belongings.

There are three rows of two-person tables running front-to-back, the first just to the right of the door. This consists of just two tables, followed by a row of three to the right of that. Finally, there two more along the right-hand wall, beyond which is a two-person sofa, its back to the wall.

You’ve now reached the level of the counter, which starts on the left-hand wall, facing the door. The remainder of the L-shaped counter continues down the right-hand side, facing the sofa on the opposite wall. The last of the seating is here, with four more tall stools down the side of the counter, which projects slightly, leaving space for people to get their knees underneath (a point which is too often forgotten when designing counter-seating). There are also more hooks under here, another excellent design feature.

Little Woodfords continues beyond this point, a short, wide corridor leading past the enclosed kitchen, which is on the left behind the counter, while on the right, beyond the sofa, you’ll find the water/takeaway station. The corridor ends at a flight of stairs on the right, which leads down to the cosy, basement toilet (but don’t forget to collect the key from the counter before you head down).

Returning to the counter, you order at the till, which is directly opposite the door, between the cakes (left) and La Marzocco Linea espresso machine (right). Batch brew and the toaster for the bagels/biscuits are against the back wall behind the counter.

When Amanda and I visited in August last year, Little Woodfords was using a seasonal blend, while on my (solo) return this time last week, it was a washed Honduran single-origin, exclusive to Little Woodfords. The coffee’s available in retail bags, along with a selection of Vivid’s other blends/single-origins, plus offerings from other local roasters and a range of loose-leaf teas.

Amanda and I were there for breakfast, Amanda having a cappuccino, while I had a cortado. The blend went well in both, but came through better in the cortado. Amanda had a cherry and almond scone, while I had fried egg and cheese on a biscuit, which made for a very fine, simple breakfast.

On my return, I had the avocado toast, another excellent, simple breakfast, my toasted bagel being topped with a whole sliced avocado. I had another cortado, before trying the Honduran as an espresso, which was a lovely, smooth, well-rounded coffee with fruity notes, not at all what I was expecting from the way it came through in milk!

December 2020: Little Woodfords was a runner-up for the 2020 Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot Award.

316A CONGRESS ST • PORTLAND • ME 04101 • USA +1 207-536-4990
Monday 07:00 – 15:00 Roaster Vivid Coffee (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:00 – 15:00 Seating Tables, Window Bar, Counter, Sofa
Wednesday 07:00 – 15:00 Food Breakfast, Cake
Thursday 07:00 – 16:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 07:00 – 16:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 08:00 – 16:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 08:00 – 16:00 Power Yes
Chain No Visits 10th August 2019, 3rd March 2020

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