Gettin’ Cozy with Grendel

May 2, 2011

Grendel's Coffee House on Urbanspoon
Pure circumstance brought me to Grendel’s Coffee House, though I admit I was somewhat fascinated by the name. I’ll be honest, I’m no scholar of ancient Anglo-Saxon mythology. In fact, everything I know about Beowulf I learned from an episode of Star Trek Voyager, so don’t expect any witty mythological wordplay.

Actually, scratch that, I’d like to give it a shot. *ahem*

Exterior of Grendel's

How could you not want to go in?

Where the fearsome Grendel may be a mythical beast of unparalleled horror, the intimate Grendel’s Coffee House serves up excellent coffee and unparalleled service in a cozy space on East Burnside (count it!). When I say cozy, I do mean cozy. Seriously, it’s about…counting…12 seats. 15 if you count the couch. If anything, it sort of reminds me of a really tiny Southeast Grind, just not open 24 hours. They’ve got wifi, but you can also fire up the retro PCs (CRT monitors, yo) if you’re jonesing for throwback. Of course, that kind of intimacy almost always implies a good place to chill and chat. This is, for the record, a great place to chill and chat.

They also sell  Snarky Cards, which practically shouts “we’re cool.”

I opted for the Grendel’s Ghost mocha, which uses white espresso and produced what tasted like a full-flavored mocha with a dollop of restraint. It’s awesome. Try it. Actually, another blogger shared a description of the flavor that also follows the ghastly motif:

What was at first an interesting experience for the senses, soon turned into a flavour that wouldn’t shift from the palate, haunting every taste bud with its weirdness.”

Coffee at Grendel's

Grendel's Ghost Mocha. Oh, and yes, this photo was take well after closing.

The owner, Eric, was more than happy to explain the white espresso roasting  process to me (something about flash-roasting and more caffeine) while he brewed it up. He was also kind enough to reset the wireless router when it went screwy, let me stay after closing, and even offered some light conversation, all while patiently showing a new employee the ropes. Actually, this guy is such a pro, I think we’ll have to go to the play by play:

It’s Friday evening, and Grendel’s closes at 6pm. It’s now 6:16. Will Eric serve this walk-in?

Yes! Though coffee is off the table. He busts out the tea and hot water. She looks thrilled! That’s the look of a returning customer.

It sure is Bob. Now how about this: It’s now 6:20–twenty minutes after closing–and we’ve got a pair of folks looking for coffee and a little food.

They do offer sandwiches and pastries, Jim.

But this long after closing? We may have seen the limits of what he can do.

Well, it looks like he’s giving them the bad news…but wait! He’s taken them outside and directing them to nearby restuarants. He’s pointing, he’s gesturing, and look at that smile!  Jim, this guy’s a first-ballot all star if I’ve ever seen one.

Well there you have it. Customer service at it’s finest. Heck, he even encouraged me to take photos, though I’m sure that’s far from the strangest thing people do in coffee shops around here. Eric, if you can hear me from the legendary world you inhabit, you are the Beowulf of customer service. I shall write epic tales of your exploits…or at least one blog post.

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