Portola Coffee Lab is different and I can assure you that everything you see in our shop, minus Clinard and Truman’s bow ties, is done for a reason.

If you walk into 99% of all coffee serving locations (Starbucks, Peet’s, Duncan Donuts, etc) you will see some form of coffee storage. Like a coffee urn, thermal dispenser, or coffee pot.

“Is it easier to brew large amounts of coffee and then serve it over time?”


“So why not brew, store, and serve like everyone else?”

Because freshness matters. It matters a lot.

Unlike wine, coffee is best drunk fresh…period!

I have visited a number of shops in existence that work hard to roast coffee on site in small batches so that they can have the freshest beans possible, but then don’t take that freshness ideal into the brewing of the coffee. While we also go to great lengths to roast in small batches on site to offer the freshest beans possible, when it comes to selling brewed cups of coffee, the job does not stop there.

If you brew coffee and let it sit, it will not taste as good.

Just let brewed coffee sit for a period of time and you will understand what I mean. There are chemical changes occurring in brewed coffee that are detrimental to coffee flavor when not consumed fresh.

Why? Why does coffee start to taste bad when left to sit?

(WARNING…I am going to offer more science than most people deal with on a day-to-day basis, pace yourself.)

After coffee is brewed, hydrolysis of chlorogenic quinic lactone occurs. This results in the formation of quinic acid in the brew – which is a major contributor to perceived bitterness in coffee. This occurs whenever coffee is maintained at a high temperature of 75 Centigrade or higher – like with any coffee dispenser.

To say that storing coffee in a dispenser of any type does not matter is scientifically and factually incorrect.

I often refrain from taking rigid stances on many subjects

(i.e. mac versus windows, if bigfoot exists, if bigfoot uses mac or windows)

But this is one I cannot avoid.

Freshness absolutely matters and from an objective and professional perspective, I cannot be convinced otherwise.

There is a degradation in taste quality whenever coffee is pre-brewed, stored in dispensers and subsequently dispensed over time – even relatively short periods.

So back to the question:

“Is it easier to brew large amounts of coffee and then serve it over time?”

Yes, it is easier to funnel coffee into cups from a storage dispenser.

But we didn’t open Portola Coffee Lab to make easy coffee, we opened it to make great coffee at uncompromising standards.

Jeff Duggan