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Southwest Portland coffee shop uses beans from China

Christopher Ou is an award-winning barista champion and the owner of Superjoy Coffee Lab.

PORTLAND, Ore. — It isn't difficult to find a coffee shop in Portland, but there is one downtown that stands out from the rest because of their unique coffee beans.

Superjoy Coffee Lab opened in March 2021 at the corner of Southwest 14th Avenue and Yamhill Street.

"When we first opened, the street was literally empty. You probably see no people walking by and I just feel like people need more joy in their heart," said owner Christopher Ou.

Ou identifies as a Chinese immigrant who had to overcome cultural and language barriers to be accepted in the coffee industry in the United States. He started his journey into specialty coffee in New York, where in 2019, he became the state's barista champion before going on to compete at the national level. 

Superjoy Coffee Lab carries coffee beans from many places you'd expect, like Ethiopia, Colombia and Peru. But what sets the coffee apart at Superjoy is that it includes beans from China.

Credit: KGW
Christopher Ou opened SuperJoy Coffee Lab in Southeast Portland in March 2021.

"I think representation is important and you don't see coffee from china often," Ou said.

He said Chinese coffee tastes very different from other varieties. Some have likened it to tea or wine in terms of its complexity.

"[It] has really rich, berry, winey, and chocolate tasting notes. Also, it has a really unique earthy and fermented flavor," Ou said.

Credit: KGW
SuperJoy Coffee Lab sources coffee beans from China and other regions around the world.

He's grateful to his customers and feels it's a privilege to be a part of people's daily coffee routine. However, being a business owner in the downtown Portland area hasn't been easy. Superjoy Coffee Lab has experienced multiple break-ins, with damage to windows as well as the interior. While Ou said it seems city officials are trying to improve the situation downtown, he hopes they can find a solution to the mental health, drug and homelessness issues in the area.

Right now, Ou is focusing his efforts on Superjoy Coffee Lab's Southwest Portland location, but he's also considering possible locations in Beaverton and Hillsboro.

As part of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, KGW has been highlighting Asian-owned businesses and events in the Portland area.

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