Portland >Restaurants > Public Domain
603 SW Broadway, Portland, OR | Directions 9720545.519968 -122.679468
Neighborhoods: Downtown, Neighbors West - Northwest
Ignore the fat American complainers... what do you mean I can't have my espresso to go? What do you mean I can't have a giant fat sugar/sugar free monster drink in a 24 once grande frap cup to go? What the F!!! I'm so deprived my wants and needs!! Me me me! - did you make it through that!?? These guys/gals at Public Domain make amazing espresso drinks. End of story. Drop in and educate yourself you big dumb American.
When I first went into the store and asked for my double shot cappuccino to go I was told that they didn't serve that size drink in a paper cup. I was actually glad for it. The pull that I got was just about perfect and I would have missed out on a lot of the subtleties that the drink had to offer. I thought it was a ristretto at first but was told that they pulled what the coffee offered. Well, perhaps they act like they know their coffee better than most but I think they do and can back that up. I have had lots of coffee served up in whatever I wanted to drink but none so artfully done. If you are on vacation and have a little time to stop and enjoy a very good cup you should try them. If you are in a hurry there are lots of other stores that will be happy to throw something in a paper cup and send you on your way. Just an opinion.
The Customer is NEVER Right – This place is the worst coffee shop in PDX (which is saying a lot!). The staff does not care at all what you want- in my case, a 12 oz single shot latte. Totally out of the ordinary, right? I was told "We don't do single shots, because it destroys the integrity of the flavor".
Are you freaking kidding me?
So, because I was with a friend and didn't want to make a fuss I acquiesced and left with a latte that was twice as strong as I would normally purchase. I took one sip and immediately chucked it and went to Stumptown.
Do not waste your money on this place, unless you buy into the coffee culture where you are told that your tastes are wrong and you just don't understand good coffee.
The Coffee House That Won't Sell Coffee – I was downtown to watch the Macy's Day Parade. It was a clear but cold fall morning (perfect parade weather). While waiting for the parade to start near the corner of Broadway and Alder, I spotted Public Domain. Thinking that an espresso would be perfect right then, I sauntered into the establishment.
At this point I realized I might be in trouble. The decor definitely makes a statement. My interpretation of that statement was: "We understand art, and you probably don't".
When I got up to counter, I ordered a double espresso to go. That is when I was informed that they could not sell me an espresso to go. I had watched everyone in line ahead of me leave with their paper cups filled with coffee, so I knew they had paper cups. The barista went on to tell me that their espresso may only be served in porcelain cups. She told me that she could make me an Americano in a paper cup, but not an espresso.
This seemed silly to me, but I also understand that the employees have to follow company rules, no matter how silly they are. I proposed a solution that would allow her to skirt around the rules. "May I order an espresso and separate to go cup?" The response to that was, "I wouldn't know how to charge you for that."
I left espresso-less and very, very sad. You win this time Public Domain, but I will be back for a rematch! On second thought, maybe I will just buy my burnt beans and water elsewhere.
Wow. After reading the previous reviews I hate to even post mine, but in the interest of public awareness I feel the need to anyway.
We stayed at the Westin while down in Portland for the weekend, and Public Domain is steps away from the Westin entrance. Monday morning as we're waiting for our car to be retrieved by the valet, we decide to grab a coffee for the road trip back to Seattle. I headed inside and really loved the minimalist approach of the space. The gentleman behind the counter was approachable and helpful, and yet when I began to order everything just fell apart.
I asked if they happened to offer sugar-free vanilla flavoring as my hubs loves sugar-free vanilla lattes. Nope, no sugar-free but they do offer an organic vanilla. Doesn't help the sugar-free aspect, so we go with a regular latte and I'll grab some Splenda for him on the way out.
Next up, I request a double espresso. The counterman helpfully lets me know that in addition to their regular espresso blend they are currently offering three single-origin espressos as well. That sounds interesting, so I ask him which he recommends and we go with that one. Okay, still doing just fine.
Next counterman asks me if I'd like the latte to go. In ordering both drinks, I requested "to go", so I reiterate that both are to go. He gets a pained expression on his face and lets me know that they do not offer espressos in to-go containers as they are meant to be enjoyed in-house. After spending a couple of weeks in Italy this autumn, I totally get that idea. However, in this particular case I want to be able to enjoy my double espresso on the road with the hubs. I explain this to counterman and while looking appropriately apologetic, he reiterates that they are not able to make a double espresso to go.
Really? Is this perfectly nice, sane-looking gentleman telling me that they are UNABLE to offer to fulfill my order specifically as ordered? I CANNOT get my double espresso in a to go cup? I am as green as the next person but COME ON! Whatever happened to customer service? I am not being well-served, as your paying customer, by your bureaucratic policies here.
Not wanting to get into fisticuffs with the nice gentleman behind the counter, I review my options and ask for an Americano to go instead. Nice. Now, my anticipated, lusciously dark double espresso is going to become a waterlogged American-style coffee. Not what I want. Counterman offers to make it a short Americano, thus minimizing the waterlogging, but in essence I am still walking away with a "not-what-I-wanted-waterlogged-espresso". And the kicker is, they are still using a to go cup, so why the hell couldn't they just make an exception and put my originally-requested double espresso in a to go cup?
I was trying not to be difficult but at this point, I was not being taken care of as a customer. So, I shut up and waited for my order and then on the way out, grabbed the Splenda for the hubs latte and *gasp* two lids. Deal with it, coffee police.
The kicker? Once in the car and headed back to Seattle, I took my first sip. Bad diner coffee. Are you kidding me? Oh yes. Never, never, never again. Public Domain, you are dead to me.
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