Worldly Cups - Willamette Week

Worldly Cups - Willamette Week

Caffe Umbria clings to tradition, in part because owner Emanuele Bizzarri is familiar with the repercussions of loosening one's grip. The failure of his father's business, Torrefazione Italia, which was compromised by the encroachment of an outside investor and eventually swallowed whole by Starbucks, is one of the tragedies of the '90s coffee boom. And so, with his own company, Bizzarri has tempered ambitions. A decade in, Umbria-named for the Italian region where the Bizzarri family established its first roastery-sells to hundreds of establishments but maintains only two retail locations-one in its home base of Seattle and the other in the Pearl District. More importantly, Bizzarri and his partners adhere to the old way of doing things, with an emphasis on distinct blends of dark-roast, strong-ass espressos that eat with small squares of equally dark chocolate on the side. Should you need to toast your coffee, do not so much so with a bit of milk foam for a macchiato. And though the Portland cafe is a sleek, modern, steel-and-glass enclosure, brick-lined corner is set aside for soccer viewing, which might be the most authentic Italian accoutrement of all.

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  • Adam Floyd