Vero Espresso House
4/28/2013 — 3:30pm
I’ve been bouncing around the Pacific Northwest for a few weeks now, but today marks the event for which I initially justified my travels: the Eugene Marathon. My diligent training pays off and I finish the race in a personal best time, far exceeding my expectations. With my mission accomplished, I decide to treat myself to a celebratory cup of coffee before I leave Eugene. The same friend who suggested the Wandering Goat also recommended Vero, so I head on over.
The Vero Espresso House is just as the name implies: a large, yellow Victorian house serving traditional espresso-based drinks. Although they “proudly serve Stumptown” rather than roast their own beans, the owners have gone to great lengths to create a place of refuge. A giant wraparound porch seats dozens; a majority of them appear to be college students cramming for finals, holding private conversations, or simply soaking up some afternoon sun. Inside, an assortment of “antique” tables and chairs bear even more students. I explore Vero’s many rooms feeling as though I’ve stepped into a library; it is impressively quiet. A sign indicates a private meeting room upstairs may be reserved for a small fee. Everything — from the walls to the art to the furnishings — is colored with a carefully chosen palette of red, gold, green and brown.
I approach the counter and admire the enormous, immaculately kept La Marzocco espresso machine it supports, its brushed steel meticulously buffed and polished. A young blond takes my usual order in exchange for $2.50 while a pale barista with thick-rimmed spectacles (becoming of a hipster) pulls a few shots and pours my drink. The crema quickly separates as I carry the cup to a vacant table trying not to disturb the peace as I unpack my bag for a short stay. Other than some soft jazz playing above, I must be the greatest source of noise at this moment.
Brewed from Stumptown beans, my Americano looks and smells predictably thin and mild. A taste confirms this: bright, citrus tones on a light-bodied roast without a hint of bitterness. The brew tastes a bit weaker than the Americano I enjoyed at the real Stumptown in Portland, so perhaps it has been slightly underextracted; or perhaps my taste buds are dull following this morning’s demanding run. Regardless, for an afternoon coffee I am pleased with the result. Upon finishing the drink I bus the mug and snoop around a bit more noting the complete absence of merchandise for sale — bagels, beer and tea appear to be the only other options.
The Vero Espresso House encourages customers to come and stay awhile, a notion I genuinely appreciate in an age where quick customer turnover characterizes so many coffee shops. Granted the University of Oregon student body provides a generous base of potential clientele, they have capitalized well on this market opportunity and created an establishment akin to Star Life, my go-to haven as a student at the University of Washington, only on a much larger scale. Despite a slightly fancy, overdone feeling Vero elicits, I would certainly spend much time here if I were a Duck.