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Coffee Brand Ristretto Roasters Will Throw in the Towel for Good This Month

After slowly shutting down cafes over a number of years, Ristretto will roast its final batch of coffee December 15

Brooke Jackson-Glidden is the editor of Eater Portland.

Portland coffee company and cafe chain Ristretto, which once had four cafe locations around Portland, announced it will cease all operations on December 15. The chainlet had closed several coffee shops around the area the past two years, but had kept its roasting operation going until now.

On Friday, Ristretto announced that it will fully close via an announcement on the website first spotted by the Oregonian. “To all Ristretto Roasters customers, after fifteen years, the time has come to pull up stakes and fold the tent on our Portland-based coffee roasting operation,” the post reads. “We started with a tiny café in Portland’s Beaumont neighborhood, and it’s been a blast growing into other locations and lines of business, from wholesale to mail order to working directly with growers overseas.”

Ristretto was one of the earlier, popular cafe chains of Portland’s third-wave coffee movement, alongside places like Coava or Stumptown. But in recent years, Ristretto has garnered national attention outside the world of coffee: Two years ago, journalist Nancy Rommelmann started a YouTube series called #MeNeither, which openly critiqued the women who had come forward in the midst of the #MeToo movement. Rommelmann is married to Ristretto owner Din Johnson, and for employees at Ristretto, seemed closely linked with the business. Former and current employees uncomfortable with Rommelmann’s YouTube series came forward with a public statement, publicly condemning the now-deleted series.

Since then, Ristretto has slowly started to dissolve. Groceries around the city pulled beans from their shelves, and Rommelmann wrote multiple pieces on how the “internet locusts” had killed her husband’s business. For two years, locations have slowly closed across the Portland area, from North Portland to NE Couch. The North Williams coffee shop has since turned into an unaffiliated shokupan toast cafe, and its KOIN building cafe closed in April 2020.

Rommelmann posted her own note on the closure via her Substack, connecting the closure to a larger conversation about “cancel culture.” “Some people got kind of mad at me, and kind of directed their anger at my husband’s business,” she says, later adding, “my husband is a private person, and he certainly had more exposure than he would have liked.” She also read a personal essay, returning to her initial critique of Argento and Rose McGowan as leaders of the #MeToo movement and her later critique of the former employee who wrote the initial public statement condemning her YouTube show.

“Given people’s preferences for simple narratives, [the employee] became a hero, I a villain,” Rommelmann says. She details ways that her husband was impacted by the backlash directed at Ristretto, saying that he was “repeatedly warned to leave his wife or lose his business” as employees quit and wholesale accounts bolted. “I watched my husband — quiet, stoic man — lose the company he built literally with his hands, watched it sink into insolvency,” she says. “Downfall was my fault, and it wasn’t.”

People can order coffee through Ristretto’s website, or listen to Rommelmann’s full statement here.

Ristretto closing announcement [Official]
Coffee Beans, #MeToo and Thank You [Substack]
Portland’s Ristretto Roasters to close for good [O]
Ristretto Faces Backlash After Owner’s Wife Starts Questioning #MeToo Allegations [EPDX]
The Internet Locusts Descend on Ristretto Roasters [Q]
Ristretto Roasters Jabs at Portland’s ‘Outrage Culture’ in a Now-Deleted Twitter Thread [EPDX]
Anti-MeToo Vlogger Needs to Take Ownership for Her Impact on Food & Beverage Employees [EPDX]