BEND, Ore. — The small town of Bend, Oregon is offering some stiff competition for Seattle’s big-city coffee.
Riff is a taproom that serves small-batch cold brew coffee and cocktails.
It was co-founded by Paul and Bobby Evers.
"Bobby and I have been working together for over thirty years, since he was born,” Paul joked.
The father and son team say the name “Riff” is based on their philosophy that coffee can push past traditional boundaries.
"Our whole interior dialogue is it's a new experience with coffee, so when you riff on something, you build on something. You take something and run with it,” Bobby said.
The eclectic Riff menu includes a cold brew made with CBD, a flaming coffee cocktail, and caffeinated banana bread. Loaves are made using part of the coffee plant that's usually thrown away - the fruit that surrounds coffee beans, called cascara.
"It's naturally sweet, naturally caffeinated, naturally delicious,” Paul said.
Cascara has notes of apricot and lemon but few people ever taste it because it's a discarded byproduct, leading to waste and environmental concerns. Riff upcycles cascara - using it to make flour for baking and natural energy drinks called Alter Ego.
They also have a full food menu, with some of the most colorfully healthful plates you can imagine. But coffee is the main draw. The Evers say the appeal starts with Bend's water supply.
"You literally stick your head under a faucet and it's the most delicious tasting water you've ever had,” Bobby said.
The cold brewing process involves steeping coffee grounds for more than half a day. It makes the drinks naturally sweeter and more balanced, so cream and sugar aren’t necessary. But for those who like their coffee with added flavor, Riff offers nitro foam in flavors like vanilla and Nutella.
"As you drink it, it kind of melts or drips down into the coffee itself,” Bobby said.
For anyone who prefers a warm cup of coffee on a cold day, no problem. They also serve hot nitro cold brew.
Another innovation: the Riff Lift Index. It lists the amount of caffeine in different drinks to help customers regulate their intake.
"It's kind of like the ABV of beer, so you understand what the alcohol content is,” Paul said.
It all adds up to a small corner of the Pacific Northwest becoming the new frontier of coffee.
"There's a really wonderful, collaborative culture that's special in Bend,” Paul said.
Riff is located at 555 NW Arizona Ave. in Bend. The company's cold brew and energy drinks are also available for purchase online.
Sponsored by Visit Bend.