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.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
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.
|643 FOREST AVENUE • PORTLAND • ME 04101 • USA|
|Monday||07:00 – 16:00||Roaster||Vivid Coffee (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||07:00 – 16:00||Seating||Tables, Window Bar, Counter, Sofa|
|Wednesday||07:00 – 16:00||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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