Full City Rooster will expand to Portland, broaching a major city in the heavily coastal microroasting coffee scene. The caffeinated spin-off called FCR PDX debuts in April.
When founder Michael Wyatt opened the now fully fledged coffee shop with his wife Chris in 2013, he was one of the first to bring Dallas small-batch, single-origin beans from uncommon origins like Yemen and Laos. His Cedars roastery landed off the beaten path on Akard Street, situated among small brick buildings that housed art studios and warehouses. This stretch hadn’t added anything new since Baby Back Shak and Lee Harveys many years before. Still, the coffee shop soon became a place to find rich drinking chocolate based on Valrhona fèves, erudite art magazines, and experimental concerts in the back room under the taxidermy that was quirkily bequeathed to him by customers. Everything bears the stamp of neighborhood. So if any place were going to draw him from his singular focus, it had to be equally special.
“My initial reaction was no,” Wyatt says. “But [then] things kept lining up.”
Packages going out for niche mail orders and private labeling often had a destination in common. “We’ve had great support in Portland. Portland’s been really good to us.” A private-order client approached Wyatt, and one thing led to another.
And so they’ll settle the annex in Portland’s Alberta neighborhood, in a building from 1912, in a neighborhood where a James Beard award-winning chef owns Beast and the Burmese-inspired Expatriot, where dinner happens among vinyl records and black-and-white film projections—a neighborhood, appropriately, with grit. Not unlike the Cedars.
“I feel like [Portland] would be the No. 1 city for me,” says Wyatt. “The weather, the community. Craft is very important. There aren’t big coffee companies there.” Instead, micro-roasters reign in this city that ranks in the top coffee tier after L.A., New York, Chicago, and San Francisco.
The non-negotiables were, for him, paramount. He will still be sourcing the coffee, but, “as a roaster, I get to stay here and roast,” he says. “My focus is staying here.”
And trust lies in the Portland team, helmed by a former Full City Rooster barista who happened (in another one of the coincidences that felt revelatory) to have moved just a few blocks away from where the PDX annex will open and will be community liaison and coffee specialist.
“I never wanted to open a second location,” Wyatt says, “It’s funny to me that we’re opening it in another city.”
It’s because all the elements came together. And so, however unlikely in the eyes of one soft-spoken coffee roaster, there’ll be a piece of the Cedars in the Northwest.
Meanwhile, if you haven’t been down to the Cedars for the sipping chocolate or the conversation or to catch sight and a sniff of the fabulous Loring roaster, I suggest you do. Those hand-crafted cups? Made by a local Cedars potter, natch.