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28 July 2017

The Portsmouth, NH, Caffeine Chronicles: Profile Coffee Bar

After a gorgeous sunny day at the wonderful Good Harbor Beach on Wednesday, the weather was a bit more unsettled yesterday so we decided to drive up to the Kittery Outlets, a few miles over the Maine border, for a bit of retail therapy. I had done a bit of research beforehand and come to the conclusion that there wasn't any speciality coffee to be had in the town of Kittery and so didn't bring my camera with me.

However, in the J. Crew outlet, I picked up a hand-drawn map highlighting some of the independent shops and eateries in nearby Portsmouth, just across the Piscataqua River in New Hampshire. When searching for coffee shops in Kittery, the best options nearby seemed to be in Portsmouth and we decided to make a quick detour for lunch and a wander.


By happy coincidence, I parked just around the corner from Profile Coffee Bar, which looked like the most promising speciality coffee shop in town. Profile (motto: 'rediscover coffee') is located on Portwalk Place, a block or two north of the main drag, Congress Street, and it has been open for about two years. Like much of Portsmouth's downtown area, Portwalk Place has charming red-brick buildings and pavements.


Inside, the café is spacious and with simple but attractive decor and plenty of seating. There are comfy sofas at the front and smaller tables and chairs at the back. Along the windows that run along the side, there are boxes of vintage records, which make for some great browsing. They were playing some great music too, and the ambiance was very relaxed and welcoming.




As for the coffee, Profile has an impressive offering. They serve Counter Culture coffee and as well as the usual array of espresso-based drinks, there were three single-origin coffees available as a pourover (an Ethiopian, an a Colombian and a Papua New Guinean, with or without ice) and they also serve cold brew and nitro cold brew on tap. I'd already eaten but there is an impressive array of breakfast sandwiches, as well as soups, salads and sandwiches.




The parking meter was soon going to expire so I ordered a cortado ($3.58) to drink in and a pourover ($4.27) to keep me going on my drive back to Cape Ann. The former was well-prepared with a well-balanced, smooth taste. The latter was an Ethiopian Haru coffee brewed through the Chemex and it was delicious with subtle floral notes coming through very nicely indeed, especially as the coffee cooled during my drive home. My dad — not a big fan of 'fruity' coffees — was very happy with his cappuccino too. All of the baristas were very friendly too, and Profile was a lovely place to spend all too short a time.




We also spent an hour or so exploring Portsmouth's delightful downtown, taking lunch at Flatbread, a casual, rustic wood-fired pizza joint. There were musicians playing on several Congress Street corners, and some of the shops I spotted included: Gus & Ruby (cards and stationery), Portsmouth Book & Bar (clue's in the name), Mint Boutique (clothing and accessories), the historic Ceres Bakery and Stonewall Kitchen (speciality food).




A half-mile west of the city centre is a neighbourhood called the West End, which I've seen described as the Brooklyn of Portsmouth, although wasn't quite what I was expecting and probably wasn't quite worth the 25 minutes of my limited time in Portsmouth to walk there and back; I did find the lovely-looking Port City Coffee Roasters and the cool nano-brewery, Liars Bench. Meanwhile, a few blocks south-east of Congress Street is the Strawberry Banke Museum, a 10-acre living history museum. We didn't have time to visit but just peeked over the walls. Perhaps we'll make it back to Portsmouth before the end of our stay in Gloucester. You could easily spend a good half-day enjoying all that this small town has to offer.




Profile Coffee Bar. 15 Portwalk Place, Portsmouth, NH 03801. Website. Twitter. Instagram.

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