Word around The Windy City is that Stumptown is opening up a shop here (see edit below). But hey, maybe it’s just the gossip blowing around (I know, I know, bad pun, my apologies). The roaster has already taken its home, Portland, by storm, plus nearby Seattle. And last fall, it infiltrated New York City through the high-end Ace Hotel. What’s next? Hopefully, somewhere in the Midwest?

Earlier this week at work, I had just emerged from the back room, carrying a load of clean dishes, when I spotted the distinctive bag of beans (their exclusive espresso blend, “Hairbender”) and a fancy schmancy jar of their Anniversary Blend. Obviously (they’re based in Portland), I excitedly went, “Ooh! Where did these come from? I wasn’t able to taste Hairbender when I went there!” My co-worker discreetly nudged me, did a head-jab towards two men sitting at the bar, and whispered, “They’re here. That’s the owner.”


And that’s when I did a double take. “Duane?!” I had to ask, just to make sure I heard her right. Apparently, he visits us when he’s in Chicago and bears gifts. He and another Stumptown employee chatted with the cafe owners for a few minutes while sipping our espresso (which wasn’t tasting so hot that day) and then took off. But the exchange got me wondering. The infamous Duane Sorenson was in our shop… was he possibly wooing us? He’d probably say that he doesn’t woo, he just gets what he wants.

But Stumptown in Chicago will definitely heat up the competition here even more. Can’t wait to see what happens.

Whoops, I forgot to add on my notes of their Anniversary Blend.

Let’s just say that after making it twice in the Chemex (first time by tablespoons and second time by grams), my opinion didn’t change much. The taste can be best summed up by saying that we got the leftovers from the anniversary celebration. Sidenote: it was roasted the day before, so it was way fresh. It was going for baking spice, toffee, and sweet citrus (I thought citrus was tangy, not sweet…). Instead, it tasted like overroasted caramel, with vanishing hints of toffee and spice. The caramel completely coated my tongue and I really don’t care much for caramel. $30 for a 12 oz bag… ohhhh boy.

Hopefully we can mess around with Hairbender a bit. Based on reviews of that, I’m expecting a lot.

[edit 01.25.10] So I was able to taste the Anniversary Blend about four days later out of the Chemex. I found it to have a much fuller body with a little more of the spice that it was advertising to have. Unfortunately, it still didn’t taste on par with the price tag. Maybe you pay for the fancy packaging?

[edit 02.16.10] I was only semi correct. Stumptown didn’t open up their own retail shop, but it DOES have an account here: Bagel on Damen in Wicker Park. It recently opened at the end of January and has mixed reviews on Yelp. That’s not going to stop me from going there, though. Flying in Stumptown from the NYC roastery to be the first Chicago account– that’s a big deal. Adding it onto my list of shops I intend on visiting during my espresso hop.