Stumptown Coffee Goes Abroad…

One night last winter, I was heading through de Pijp, a neighborhood in Amsterdam. The area is best known for the Albert Cuyp Market, a humongous outdoor smörgåsbord  of commerce where you can find everything from tulips to fish to cheap digital cameras. As a group of workers and a few stray seagulls were cleaning things up for the night, what to my wandering eyes should appear but a familiar name….

Stumptown Coffee.

The words were on a simple, black sign hanging over a doorway to what looked like a fancy bistro. No one had been near the place in days, if not weeks. It was shut up tight. Being from Portland, I’ve been a fan of this small chain of coffeeshops and roasters for years. Along with many another NW coffee junkie, I lamented the news that hit last May. Stumptown had been all but sold to a meddlesome investment group from New York City. Queue the sneering catch-phrase from those old Pace Picante ads. “NEW YORK CITY?!!!”


But what was a Stumptown doing in Amsterdam, thousands of miles from the nearest location?

I wouldn’t find out the answer until a few months later. During my period of exile back in Portland this past spring, I found myself chatting with a barista at the shop on SE Belmont. Stumptown founder Duane Sorenson had apparently been using the Netherlands as a stopping point while on his periodic business trips to coffee bean operations in Africa. For one reason or another, he gathered together a group of seven employees in May of 2010 for an overseas sojourn.

She had been among the chosen few. Sorenson rented out a space near the market to help spread the good Stumptown word to Europe while also using it as an occasional crash pad. It was only intended to be a temporary “pop up shop.”  The place closed down after a few months.

And it’s a damn shame. Since I relocated to the Netherlands last month, I’ve found myself hankering for a cup of Stumptown’s French Press, regardless of Sorenson’s decision to “sell out.” While the Dutch consider their coffee to be the finest in the world, I haven’t developed a taste for the stuff. It’s too bitter and strong enough to strip the orange tint off Snooki.

If you’re ever looking for a Portland expat to manage a franchise here in the Netherlands, Duane, give me a holler.

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2 Responses to Stumptown Coffee Goes Abroad…

  1. Igor Mortis says:

    While visiting my home town last summer I actually stumbled on that Stumptown store myself. Just in time too, since they were just a week away from closing. It looked like the space was the front part of an ad-agency. As it had been almost a month since we had left Portland, my homesick daughter was very excited. The barista/ whom I have since run into at the SW3rd location told me that they were talking of making it a yearly thing with employees from NY and Portland rotating through. Don’t know if that happened, but you might want to have another look.

  2. Thanks for the tip. I really wish Stumptown would become a permanent fixture in Amsterdam. I’d be happy with even a temp shop. There are surprisingly few coffee places in the city with free wifi and great beans.

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