It's a giant gift emporium with everything from picnic baskets to handerpants, not to mention the wall of loose leaf tea, chocolate case or the many jars of old fashioned candies.
|The amazing Ray. He's so great, he has a dish named after him at the No Sweat|
My favorite aspect of this place is behind the counter, the two gorgeous pull espresso machines that Ray has redesigned to be electric instead of using gas.
When I first moved to Portland, all I heard about was the coffee. I think I've been spoiled by the Mercantile, because nothing comes close to tasting like the drinks I've had here. There's a place called Cafe Spella in downtown that has a pull espresso machine(one of the only ones in Portland it seems), but the ambiance doesn't quite match up to the General Mercantile.
I worked here for about a year when I was twenty and I was blown away by the entire process of pulling an espresso. There has to be the right temperature, right water pressure, right grind on the coffee, even the way the coffee bean is roasted(air roasted in the case of the Mercantile) will effect the flavor of the drink.
It's the best place to go if you want to enjoy the best cup of coffee of your life(I recommend the Iced Rocket; espresso, lots of sugar and heavy cream poured over ice), chat with the friendly baristas and listen to old men wax poetic about their ill-informed opinions on politics and the local news.
I feel like there is a hole in my heart where the mercantile lived and realize being away what an incredibly special place it is.
|Earl Grey, black tea with bergamot oil.|
Iced Earl Grey
2 Tbsp loose leaf Earl Grey Tea
5 oz. water, or enough to barely cover your tea leaves
1 Tbsp honey
milk to taste
1 cup packed with cubed ice
1. Place your loose leaf in a tea basket and set in a heat proof cup. If you don't have a tea basket, go get one, they're cheap. Otherwise you can use cheesecloth.
2. Bring your water up to a gentle boil and pour over your tea leaves. You're creating a concentration of flavor, so you don't want to put too much water in, just enough to cover the leaves.
3. Steep for at least 1.5 minutes and no longer then 3. Black and green teas get bitter when oversteeped.
4. Take out basket, discard leaves. Mix honey into your hot tea until dissolved.
5. Pour the hot tea over your cup of ice. Add more ice as needed to chill it completely. The ice melting will add liquid to your drink, that's why you needed the concentrated amount of tea.
6. Doctor it up with some milk, and enjoy the shit out of it.