There are a lot of great Portland food and drink carts and Spella Caffé, open since fall of 2006, is one of the best. The reason: Andrea Spella. Andrea is part Italian and part Polish and drinks about 10 to 15 shots of espresso a day. He claims it helps him sleep and adds with a smile, "I guess I'm just wired differently."
I guess so. In the past few weeks I've been so nervous about my impending book due date that I've sadly had to cut out my afternoon cup of coffee. In the past couple years I've looked forward to my afternoon cup almost as much as my morning cup but when your heart is aflutter with nerves too much coffee just adds to the stress. Anyway, 10-to-15-shots-a-day Andrea obviously doesn't feel my pain. I met with him in late April and learned all about why he loves coffee and why we Portlanders love his coffee.
Spella Caffe's signature classic Italian roast coffee is roasted in small 11 pound batches and pulled ristretto style with an old school piston machine as opposed to a modern pressurized pump espresso machine. There's no walking away from the machine or even talking much with customers while a Spella espresso is in full swing. The end result is a nicely extracted cup of coffee with a beautiful crema.
In addition to expertly prepared coffee the cart serves from-scratch chai, hand shaken iced drinks (Andrea doesn't like blenders), small batch Stella Gelato made in Eugene, and all sorts of tasty baked goods -- authentic biscotti, quickbreads and cookies -- prepared by a loyal customer and librarian at downtown's Central Library.
Over the years Spella Caffe has acquired quite a following so it's rare to step up to the window without at least a short wait. Two of Andrea's favorite regulars are Little Red Bike Café owners Evan Dohrmann and Ali Jepson who rode their tandem bike to the cart for a celebratory shot of espresso minutes after they were married (for the third time) at the Multnomah County Circuit Court in 2008.
Spella Cafe 901 SW Alder St. 503.421.9723 www.spellacaffe.com Mon.-Fri. 9am-4pm.