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Forage Coffee Company puts emphasis on java and atmosphere

Third-wave coffee finds its way to downtown Medford by way of Forage Coffee Company on East Main Street. The longtime empty building that used to be a gas station has had a considerable redo leading up to the coffee shop’s grand opening a few months ago.

Where gas pumps once sat under the large roof just outside the building are a few tables, yellow chairs and several planters. Owners Jacob Terando and Mason Storm Falconer utilized the building’s windowed garage doors by opening nearly half of the shop, welcoming customers inside. Indoors, the space is brightened up with large windows, white walls and concrete floors. The floral wallpaper on one of the back walls accents the space by giving it a fresh atmosphere and attracting customers to pose for pictures with their drinks. In the other corner of the shop are potted houseplants, art prints, and coffee merchandise for sale.

Third-wave coffee is comparable to an artisanal winery, serving high-quality coffee with an emphasis on flavor profiles, growers and roasting. Like most third-wave coffee shops, Forage’s menu is short, only listing nine different drinks to choose from. What’s nice about having a short menu is that it doesn’t give the customer too many options or several sizes to choose from, which can be overwhelming. The emphasis on coffee rather than syrup flavor combinations invites customers to learn about the coffee’s roast, origin, and characteristics.

Though I’ve been to Forage a few times since it’s opening, I ordered the cold brew ($4) for the first time in preparation for this review. The cold drink is made from Case Coffee’s Epiphany blend brewed over a period of 12 hours. It was smooth, had hints of chocolate notes and packed a nice caffeine punch.

Case Coffee’s Epiphany blend is also used for the espresso. The versatile blend becomes mild in a latte ($4), easily enjoyed iced or hot. In an Americano ($3), subtle floral and caramel notes come alive from the blend.

The drip coffee ($3) is a different single-origin coffee each week, delivered by Eugene-based company Tailored Coffee Roasters. The current coffee is teeming with citrus and nutty flavors. The owners plan to rotate coffee roasters every few months to provide variety to their customers.

I also ordered a raspberry bran muffin ($3), which is made fresh in shop by Falconer. The sweetness of the muffin was a complimentary contrast to the bitterness in the cold brew. The pockets of fresh raspberry, however, were tart and refreshing. The inside of the muffin was wonderfully moist, while the top was crunchy and covered with large granules of sugar. The sausage fennel scone ($4.50), served with a side of butter, tastes exactly how it sounds. Each flavor brings the scone to life, from the peppery sausage to the spring-tasting fennel.

My friend and I enjoyed our drinks on the couch in the center of the coffee shop across from a swinging chair. To the right of us were smaller tables where people worked on laptops or chatted.

To the left of us was a bar with high chairs looking out through one of the large windows onto the outdoor seating area and traffic outside. A long table to our left is always filled with at least a few customers. The larger potted plants make the space feel fresh and alive. With all the natural sunlight, it’s hard to not feel positive when enjoying coffee indoors.

Terando and Falconer have been in the coffee game for several years, and it’s clear in the attention and care they put into each drink they make. Having an inviting atmosphere is one thing, but serving excellent coffee is what will bring customers back.

Forage Coffee Company also serves Oregon Chai ($4), cappuccinos ($3.50), cortados ($3.25), tea from Metolius Tea, and has a couple alternative milks and flavors to choose from. The shop at 529 E. Main St. is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and is a neighbor to Hawthorne Park and just down the street from the Medford Center.

A chilly cup of cold brew, made from Case Coffee’s Epiphany blend, and raspberry bran muffin are on the menu at Forage Coffe Coffee Company. (Photo by Jordan Marie McCaw)