A Brief History of Portola Coffee Lab (Provided By Clinard):

Portola History

  • 245,000,000 BCE – The Dinosaurs walked the earth
  • 44 BCE  – Roman empire: democracy, aqueducts, sandals
  • 1903 – Henry Ford makes the model-t that runs on oil made from dead dinosaurs.
  • 1969 – Man lands on the moon. 
  • 1972- Jeff Duggan is Born.
  • 1998 – Duggan roasts his first “batch” of coffee – done on a cast iron skillet – is declared an “utter disaster.” -Jeff Duggan & everyone that saw it happen.
  • 1999-2007 – Duggan uses his background in Chemistry to understand the chemical reactions occurring during the roasting process. Over these years he tweaks, reforms, abandons, and tests many roast styles before settling on his own. 
  • 2007 – iPhone is introduced, the world rejoices. 
  • 2008 – the next iPhone is introduced, and the world begrudgingly upgrades. 
  • 2009 – Duggan opens Portola Handcrafted Coffee Roasters inside the Layer Cake Bakery in Irvine .  

Thanks Liz and Ehriline!! It was here that I was able to introduce my coffee to Orange County and the positive reaction I got was the major factor leading to my decision to open a retail coffeehouse and roastery in Costa Mesa.” – Jeff Duggan 

  • 2010 – another iPhone is introduced, this time with HD video, the world begrudgingly upgrades and videotapes nonsense.
  • 2011- Portola Coffee Lab opens in Costa Mesa California. The coffee world rejoices. 

There is a Reason for Everything // Part 2

by Jeff Duggan

When we opened, we knew this location would be different in every way.  And the main thing that we get asked about is our multitude of amazing brew methods.

I didn’t open Portola Coffee Lab until 2011, so it is obvious to say that I am not the first person to ever create a manual brew, single-cup coffeehouse.  (Even though we are the first of our kind in Orange County.)

The retail coffee industry has been in a process of evolution for at least the past five years – although many would argue longer.  And in this evolution we have seen this manual-brew focus pop up all over the US.

I have traveled the country visiting some of the most reputable and respected single-cup coffee companies in existence such as

Four Barrel,

Ritual Roasters,

Blue Bottle,

Sightglass Coffee,

Stumptown in Portland,

Espresso Vivace, Victrola, and Caffe Vita in Seattle,

and Intelligentsia in LA.

There are many more of course but this is a good sample to give you an idea of my coffee quest.

What I saw in these amazing shops was freshly-roasted coffee brewed manually through a couple different brew methods per coffeehouse.  Most locations didn’t provide more than one or two different ways to have you coffee brewed.

It was my decision to take things a step further by designing a coffeehouse with a variety of single-cup methods rather than just focusing on one or two.

So now back to the focus of these posts,  WHY?  Why offer so many brew methods?

Because, in my opinion, there is no such thing as a “perfect” brew method.  No matter how quantifiable you want coffee brewing to be (like when we use our refractometer to measure extraction rates while brewing) it is impossible to measure something subjective like people’s tastes.

When it comes to our brew methods, like with one’s own kids, I don’t have one favorite.  We love each one of our methods (“kids”) equally.  I cannot tell you that one manual brew method is superior to any of the others we offer – that is not what it’s about.  What I can say is each brew method creates its own unique flavor experience.

So now why is that important?
Another great question!

Not everyone likes coffee prepared the same way.  Just like not everyone likes food prepared the same way.  Let’s take chicken for example.  We can grill it, broil it, or fry it.  Which one is the best? I would venture to say that an equal number of people would select each one based on nothing more than personal preference.  Similarly, I want to give my customers the ability to drink my Kenya, Brazil, Tanzania or any other coffee I offer in a way that best suits their individual palate.

Options are wonderful!  Things just aren’t as enjoyable if you don’t have some choice in the matter (e.g., Communist Russia, known for horrible coffee.) 

Some come into Portola Coffee lab who are dedicated Trifecta drinkers and others love the Siphon or Hario drippers.  It makes me happy to see that all of our different brew stations are being enjoyed.  For me, it is validating.

There is no other place around that gives you so many expert choices when it comes to brewing freshly-roasted coffee.

So you ask::

“Why do we offer so many brew methods?”

And the answer in my opinion is:

Because more than ever,  we want it to be YOUR choice.  And we look forward to giving you the best options available to make that choice.  Above all, it is our fanatic commitment to freshness not only in the beans, but also in the cup that motivates us to go to such great effort to brew each cup of coffee just for you.  It is your cup of coffee, and it should match your palate.  

Everyone is welcome, come find your favorite.

-Jeff Duggan.