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Monday, April 20, 2009

"The Messiah Hails From Portland..."

Posted by Matt Davis on Mon, Apr 20, 2009 at 12:39 PM

I can't figure out if the New York headline writer did this just to fuck with our ever-eager desire to see Portland mentioned on the national stage in glowing terms. But. This week's profile of Stumptown's Duane Sorenson seems ball-licky in the extreme. Take this, for example:

Within six years, Sorenson had five Stumptowns in Portland. In 2007, he expanded into his home state, opening two cafés and a roastery there. But his personal life was unraveling; he was traveling around the globe two weeks out of every month to develop partnerships with farmers, leaving his wife to handle their two small children on her own. “I think it’s hard, because of how much I’m invested in Stumptown,” he says. They divorced two years ago.

Sorenson now shares a three-bedroom apartment with two of his employees, Jules Manoogian and Lizz Hudson. Their kitchen counter is a veritable café: a dozen French presses, an espresso machine, three or four hot-water kettles, one grinder, a couple of Thermoses, a Melitta coffee brewer, and heaps of brown-bagged Stumptown beans. This is Stumptown’s local headquarters, where Sorenson cups (coffee lingo for tasting) new batches and plots how to bring New Yorkers into the fold while listening to jazz, punk rock, and African music (on vinyl, of course).


I've never met the man, nor do I know anything about him beyond what I've heard on the grapevine. But those two paragraphs, given the circumstances they describe—divorce, leaving behind (?) two children to live a heady bachelor's life flogging coffee in Brooklyn—do seem to me to be missing the real story of what it seems to take to succeed on the national coffee scene. Full disclosure: I am drinking free-to-me Stumptown decaf as I type. It's nice. But I'd like to know more about Sorenson, now. Perhaps from his own mouth, or perhaps from people who know him. Feel free to email me here if you'd like to get the conversation going. As ever, curiously yours.

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