29 October 2021
I have long aspired to shop at a sweet little coffee shop in one of Portland’s old 1970s design bus mall stops (pulled out of regular service as bus stops because they violated Portland’s “clear vistas” requirements that one be able to see four blocks in any direction from a street corner — forgotten when the design process was underway). With the smoked glass and bronze design, it reminds me so much of my childhood, when I took the bus downtown for everything from Nordstrom visits to research trips to the Central Library. The pay phones that were integral to the stops are long gone, along with the arrival time monitor system that was the first in the nation.
So often I missed opening hours while on my afternoon walking tours, wishing I could stop as I walked past telling the story of the old bus stop and bus mall or the courthouse across the street, but finding the shop closed when I got ready to head back to our shop on the east side. During the pandemic, the shop closed for a long time, only to reopen a few weeks ago as a brand-new simple and beautiful design, Less and More Coffee.
Still integrated, however, are the symbol-based bus route maps and MAX light rail line from the 1990s, complete with only blue, red and yellow lines. The beautiful and simple addition is the Less and More “ad” in between the maps: “Less mystery, More Coffee,” designed and penned by a friend of the owner.
Ryan Jie Jiang, the barista and champion cup taster, is both enthusiastic and gentle in his approach to talking about coffee and his perfect options. He doesn’t force his vast experience and expertise on you; but if you ask questions, you’ll get in-depth answers.
There are plenty of delicious special drinks, like the Tiramisu latte, made with the secret special tiramisu cream; and the Ube latte, with purple yam and sweetened with agave. I go for the simple drinks, as Ryan is a master of these: the drip coffee and the stunningly perfect cappuccino, that he will serve for you in a beautiful mug for “here” if you decide to wait for the next bus after all.
As of this writing, late October 2021, Less and More was open daily; 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekends. There is no seating, but standing to drink and chat is ok.