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Spella Caffè Makes Triumphant Return to Downtown Portland

Spella Caffe Portland 1

At the new Spella Caffè location in downtown Portland, Oregon. All images courtesy of Spella Caffè.

An Italian-style coffee institution in the new world coffee hub of Portland, Oregon, Spella Caffè has returned to its downtown roots with the opening of a new flagship manual lever espresso bar.

The 200-square-foot, standing-room-only shop near Portland’s Pioneer Square represents Spella’s second post-pandemic shop opening. The first came late last year with a cafe in the lobby of the Harrison Square office building near Portland State University and the waterfront.

A homecoming of sorts, the new shop is located just two blocks from where Spella Caffè Owner and Roaster Andrea Spella originally planted the company’s Italian espresso flag in 2006.

Spella Caffe Portland bar

“We have customers coming back that have supported us all the way back to 17 years ago, when we first opened,” Andrea Spella told Daily Coffee News. “I can’t state enough how wonderful our customers have been. Most of them have actually still been in the neighborhood this whole time, through the pandemic, downtown problems and all. What a complete and beautiful surprise to find this out, that so many others have the same sentiment as I do about loving downtown and wanting to see it prosper and thrive. What is a city, after all, without its downtown core?”

On the first floor of the 113-year-old landmark Selling Building, the new Spella Caffè’s cream-color interior walls are jazzed up by various shades of green tile behind the bar and a countertop fashioned from light green quartzite sourced from Brazil.

“I did not want to repeat the aesthetics of the former Caffè, as I felt we were moving forward with a new chapter,” said Spella. “Just as elegant, inviting, and classic as the former space, the colors and textures are very different, beautiful.”

Spella Caffe Portland merch

Glass doors connect the shop to the lobby as well as the lively sidewalk. Aiming for an authentic Italian-style cafe experience, Spella designed standing-height counters by the shop’s street-facing windows for casual sipping and people watching.

“The energy is much more positive and moving,” Andrea Spella said of the new location. “Positioned right in the middle of many hotels, it’s the right place to be, currently and moving forward.”

Spella worked with Bonsai Design and Construction and its founder Brand Schlesinger, whose family owns the building, on the project.

“I couldn’t have done this new Caffè without this family,” Spella said. “They have been the greatest champions of us coming back and helping us to realize this in their building.”

Triumphantly returning to active duty on the new bar is the company’s classic refurbished 3-group Rancilio Classe 6 Leva espresso machine paired with a Mazzer Robur E and Super Jolly grinders.

A pair of Wilbur Curtis D500GT brewers handle drip coffee ground by modified burrs inside a Bunn G2 grinder. Toddy-style cold brew is also available. Spella remains a stalwart traditionalist in the pursuit of classic Italian espresso.

Spella Caffe Portland espresso

The company’s original downtown location closed temporarily at the height of the pandemic, then permanently in 2022. During that time, the company focused on its roasting operations, including entering into a larger roasting facility called Castella in partnership with two other Portland companies, Cascadia Coffee Roasters and Sterling Coffee.

Unfortunately, when a promising and substantial account fell through, Spella Caffè no longer required access to the larger equipment and pulled out of Castella. The company still maintains “Rossalina,” its 5.5-kilo US Roaster Corp machine in the original Spella roastery in Southeast Portland.

“I’m very happy to have helped out Cascadia and Sterling get to their next level so they can both grow, which they both are, exponentially!” said Spella. “We will get there someday, too.”

Spella Caffè is located at 608 SW Alder St. in Portland. Tell DCN’s editors about your new coffee shop or roastery here