I’m not a coffee drinker, but that’s not to say, I don’t drink coffee. In a year, I average about five cups, give or take, and when I do have one, I usually like to get the best possible ever. Portola Coffee Lab is one of my choices, but the baristas know me best as the “tea orderer” and/or “the non-coffee lover”.
When I received an invitation to preview Theorem, a new barista driven Craft Coffee Bar by Portola Coffee Lab, I accepted, even though I wasn’t sure I would be drinking with vigor, but I love the place and was genuinely interested to see what it was all about. .
The space is intimate — okay! TEENIE! — and seats a mere six. In fact, the number six is a recurring theme throughout and once you hear owner Jeff Duggan (he owns Portola with his wife Christa) gushing about the six steps to brewing the perfect cup of coffee and the six exponentials theorem — all of which escaped my simple mind — you will understand the passion and dedication towards the perfectly brewed cup of Joe.
Our evening started with barista Truman Severson giving us an introduction of the Western Ethiopia Duromina coffee he was using for the tasting. A master in his craft, Truman served up our first cup, a Capuccino, which was served lukewarm. I asked about the temperature but of course, the scientific aspects of it was lost on me. What I did get out of it was the Strauss Family Farms milk used — I love their products — for optimum taste and I was surprised by how smooth the capuccino was in my mouth.
When Truman started concocting the second drink, the Filtron Fizz — based off a Gin Fizz cocktail — he leaned in towards me and told me he was concerned when he knew that I would be joining them because I don’t like coffee. He was determined to create something I would like and perhaps get me in more often.
The cold-brewed filtron coffee, with a peach, lemon, grapefruit reduction is slightly tart and the orange flavored honey, tonic water and egg whites gave it a creamy, fragrant, effervescent feel on the palate.
Our last course was Affogato, something I absolutely LOVE! Who can resist ice cream?? I certainly can’t! Affogato is an Italian dessert which incorporates vanilla ice cream with espresso which you either sip in between spoonfuls of ice cream, or, I like to take a spoonful of espresso and then scoop the ice cream onto the same spoon. You can also pour the espresso over the ice cream if you like. No matter which way you do it, it is absolutely delicious.
Truman starts by making the perfect espresso and setting it aside. Then, he makes the perfect ice cream by mixing cream with liquid nitrogen and quickly whipping it so the cream would freeze. It was like watching a mad scientist at work, but Truman isn’t mad, just insanely passionate about his work.
Theorem opened to the public this week and is by reservation only because of space. Cell phones are requested to be kindly turned OFF (there is a sign on the door) as a courtesy to the others enjoying alongside you. It is unique, personal, and an experience shared between you and your barista. Therefore, your undivided attention is the respectful thing to do.
Each tasting runs an average of $15 (give or take depending on the menu created by the barista). Make your reservations by clicking on the website.
After I polished off the affogato, I motioned for Truman to come over and I whispered “you want to know how to get me in here? Entice me with affogato!”
Here’s a chance to get in and experience Theorem for yourself, Portola Coffee Lab has generously donated a tasting for two for one of my readers to win. Leave me an anecdote about you and coffee for a chance to visit Theorem. Make sure you leave your FULL name! Entries close on Sunday. Good Luck!
at Portola Coffee Lab
3313 Hyland Avenue
Costa Mesa, CA 92626