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After moving to Eugene in January of 2017 I jokingly told friends from California (and elsewhere) that I had discovered that Oregon had “Four Official Food Groups”:

  • Beer (locally brewed and served in brewpubs and sold in bottles in stores)
  • Wine (a shop near my home carries 500-plus Oregon Pinot Noirs)
  • Coffee (no, Seattle doesn’t “own” coffee bars that serve espresso drinks)
  • Everything Else

But these days it has become, at least for some residents of Eugene, more difficult to get their RDA (“Recommended Daily Allowance) of lattes and mochas.

Of course, the first blow to the coffee bar industry was Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s order closing restaurants and those espresso-drink emporia except for “To Go” orders. No more lingering over your cuppa with your work-mates (who were working at home anyway) or pals (who were obeying “Stay At Home” orders) or hanging out for hours while tapping away on your laptop as you sipped one or more jolts of “Joe” in Starbucks or other espresso joints.

But even when these places were allowed to re-open for onsite service, “social distancing” requirements limited the number of customers who could be enjoying their coffee drinks simultaneously, either sitting alone or with a group of friends or colleagues. And the places that depended heavily on workers from nearby offices coming in daily were even harder hit because many of those folks were working remotely.

The Starbucks location about a block from where I live has reopened but the pre-COVID-19 seating was limited and my guess (having not been in there since early March) is that few customers can be served inside (and I haven’t seen anyone at the tables that used to be outside even though the weather is sunny and warm) and most of its business seems to be coming from those using the drive-thru window.

The Starbucks location inside of the nearby Albertson’s grocery store has removed its indoor seating (and none exists outside of the store) and I assume that this is the case at all of the other area grocery stores such as Safeway and Fred Meyers where Starbucks was serving coffee drinks.

On most Wednesdays and Fridays during the past three years I’ve walked 3-5 miles with a group from a local outings club. We’ve always ended the walks with coffee from two different local places. Just after the Fourth of July I learned that our Friday stop, Allann Brothers, was closing on July 8th after failing to negotiate a new lease on terms that would have made it possible to continue operations in that location.

The company which was founded in 1972 roasts and sells coffee had two retail stores in Eugene (the first of which closed about a year ago after a rent hike forced it out), plus one in Corvallis and one in Albany, about an hour north of Eugene.

On Wednesdays we had our post-walk coffee at Brail’s Espresso. I hadn’t been there from March when the group stopped walking for about three months. This morning when I stopped by to get an iced latte I found a note on the door stating that on July 26th they had closed “for the foreseeable future.”

It’s not that I’m now left without a place to get hot or cold espresso drinks. It’s just that two of my favorite places which had exceptionally good products are probably gone forever.

But I think it is a fairly safe bet that one of Oregon’s “Four Official Food Groups” may be on the “Threatened” if not the “Endangered” list of comestibles.

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