Four years (to the day) after he helped pioneer Portland’s high-craft curbside scene, Andrea Spella is pulling his last shot of espresso on Oct. 6 at the corner of Southwest 10th and Alder.
The People’s Pig, known for swine-happy sandwiches but hidden at Southwest Second and Stark, is making plans to relocate and take over Spella’s shiny white trailer.
Watch our Interview with Cliff, Owner of The People’s Pig
—Video by Michael Cogliantry
Even in this coffee-crazed city, Spella broke new ground, hand-pulling the best espresso in the city in a cart, with his own micro-roasted beans and and an Italian Rancilio lever machine, prized by perfectionists.
Despite a stellar reputation and following among off-duty baristas, the cart suffered financially this year. Spella estimates numbers were down 50 per cent over the winter, and off by one-third this summer. Though he sites bad weather as the villain, the stunning proliferation of food carts and the surge in micro-roasters this year may have taken a little buzz out of the business.
“I want to go out on a high,” says Spella, who opened a cute cubby-hole of an indoor coffee bar last December, just blocks from the cart. “My original intent was always to get my name out, to test-drive my ideas in the cart, and get into a brick-and-mortar. Now I’ve arrived.” Spella will concentrate on marketing his small-batch, artisan-roasted, farm-direct beans and doing what he does so well: serving the only espresso in Portland that tastes straight off the streets in Rome. You’ll need to get in line at 520 S.W. 5th Ave. (Mon-Fri, 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m.)—not surprisingly, the man has a following. Also watch for Spella Caffe beans on more local shelves and restaurants.
Now that he’s left the rebel group to join the mainstream of renters, Spella says his thoughts on competition from food carts is changing: “We’re starting to approach 600 carts in this city. I’m starting to hear more from restaurateurs who aren’t happy. I used to hate it when the guy from Greek Cuisina complained about competition from the carts. Now that I’m paying rent in a brick-and-mortar, I kind of understand now. I’m not anti-carts, I just have more empathy. The way people make a living in downtown Portland is at lunch.”