Newly sporting a mural of jazz singer Joyce Bryant facing Water Avenue, a bright pink building is unmissable amongst the warehouses and industrial architecture of the Central Eastside. Inside, pastry chef Larissa Kama bakes cakes in flavors like limoncello olive oil and passionfruit rum, dipping cake truffles in spiked frostings. If you’re sensing a theme, you’re right to: The “tipsee” part of the Tipsee & Spice, Kama’s new Southeast Portland bakery, nods to her “spirited” cakes, which she infuses with alcohol in three ways — baking it into the batter, soaking it into the cake, and finally topping it with an alcohol-infused icing. And soon, the bakery will get even boozier, shifting into a cocktail bar in the evenings.
Tipsee & Spice, which opened July 6, splits its daytime menu into desserts, pastries, cakes, and specials, like cheddar-and-chive biscuits in chorizo gravy. The cakes, the cornerstone of Tipsee & Spice, come in flavors like chocolate Kahlua, butterscotch salted caramel whiskey, and cherry almond amaretto. Pastries and desserts often lean on ingredients and flavors found in various Asian cuisines — think: barbecue pork “puffins,” or puff pastries, and ube cheesecake. Kama, who trained at the Oregon Culinary Institute, picked up an affinity for tropical flavors living in Hawaii for half of her life.
Kama, who has worked at Petite Provence and Beaverton Bakery, began Tipsee & Spice two years ago as a holiday side hustle, selling rum cakes. Orders kept coming in through January, and by Valentine’s Day, she went all in on developing a fully fledged business and began selling cakes at farmers markets.
Now that she has the physical capacity of a brick-and-mortar, Kama is going full steam ahead — she intends to make liqueurs like limoncello in-house, followed by alcohol-infused ice cream. The liqueurs will of course be used for her cakes, but will also be an expansion of and complementary to her current product line, which retail online and wholesale.
Another facet of the business, coming later this summer, is Tipsee & Spice’s evening service. The bakery’s lights will dim, and a glittering disco ball and hanging crystal prisms will have their time to shine, setting the ambiance for what Kama calls “magic hour.” The bakery will switch from serving pastries to Hawaiian-inspired small plates and Hamakua coffee to cocktails, like boozy cake milkshakes, late into the night.
Starting next month, she also plans to welcome homeless Portlanders to the bakery’s roll-up door on Mondays, when it’s closed for regular business. “We’re going to open up the doors and feed folks that are facing some challenges down here to let them feel that they have a space here,” Kama says. “It doesn’t matter if they have money or not. It’s a good opportunity for me to continue to meet my neighbors and my community down here.”
That spirit of paying it forward is baked into the very foundation of Tipsee & Spice, which inherited much of its equipment from the Roxy. “The owner is a friend of mine,” says Kama. “She told me, ‘Just because my business failed doesn’t mean yours can’t have the best start possible.’”
Tipsee & Spice is now open at 1320 SE Water Avenue.