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Forage Coffee Co. offers fine quality that’s a cut above

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The cardamom-rose latte was a recent coffee special at Forage. Photo by Sarah Lemon.
A yogurt-granola parfait is one of four items on a new breakfast menu at Forage Coffee Co. in Medford. Photo by Sarah Lemon.
Iced rooibos is brewed from Metolius Artisan Tea, based in Bend. Photo by Sarah Lemon.
A housemade biscuit is piled with roasted pork belly, a fried egg and cheese at Forage. Photo by Sarah Lemon.
Avocado toast is one of four items on a new breakfast menu at Forage Coffee Co. in Medford. Photo by Sarah Lemon.

Some eateries are destined to be darlings, and there’s hardly a misstep that fazes their followers.

Forage Coffee Co. had been packing in crowds praising its coffee and baked goods for almost two years before it rolled out a small but carefully constructed breakfast menu that only heightens its popularity. Meanwhile, the Medford hot spot seemingly received with insouciance an announcement that it’s been fined for flouting statewide restrictions on indoor dining last fall. Judging from my recent visit, Forage’s regular customers are staunch in their support, regardless of conduct around the coronavirus pandemic.

As diners’ optimism matches the weather, Forage can roll up the entire front wall of its converted gas station location on East Main Street, handy to Hawthorne Park. The spectacle of the building’s massive garage door retracting to let in afternoon sunshine took me by surprise, but it’s a prime example of playing to strengths that set Forage apart from its competitors.

And of course, it never hurts to pair fine-quality coffee with foods that also are a cut above. Just four dishes compose the Forage menu, served Wednesday through Sunday. Each single item is small but attractively priced from $5 to $9. And the lineup spans a wide enough range of tastes to appeal to almost any diner.

Beautifully arrayed in fresh berries and sliced banana, the breakfast parfait is the best value for $5. Forage tops off its bowl of organic yogurt and nut-free granola with a drizzle of honey in perfect proportion to the other ingredients. It’s a simple concept executed with the same kind of precision that defines Forage’s “third wave” coffee drinks.

A devotee of single-origin drip coffees, enriched with only a splash of cream, I stepped outside my routine and ordered the special cardamom-rose latte ($4.50). I’m a sucker for the astringent spice and floral syrup in any preparation. The two flavors combined at Forage with espresso locally roasted by Case Coffee of Ashland.

Coffee drinks are priced from $3 to $4. Add 50 cents to a dollar extra for flavors and nondairy “milks.”

For tea, Forage sources from Bend-based Metolius Artisan Tea. The “Little Bear” — iced — enticed my friend who favored caffeine-free rooibos with notes of pear, ginger, vanilla, lavender and lemongrass ($3.50).

Also inclined toward a lighter eating experience, she requested Forage’s take on avocado toast: mashed buttery fruit flesh piled on rustic levain, topped with pickled red onion and cured egg yolk ($7). Although I leaned toward the levain conveying creamy scrambled eggs with a garnish of chives, my friend’s restraint freed me to go for the gusto and order the housemade biscuit with roasted pork belly, a fried egg, cheddar, arugula and fennel aioli ($9).

We waited a few minutes for a table to open up outside under the roofed expanse previously reserved for fuel pumps. Forage founders Jacob Terando and Mason Faulconer have conjured a chic gathering place at the former filling station, now furnished with black metal tables, yellow plastic chairs, planters of greenery and a few fire pits overseen by the business’ raccoon mascot, adorning the sign at the intersection of East Main and Hawthorne streets.

Inside, industrial metal and concrete surfaces are softened by floral motifs, wood and leather accents, plus so many potted tropical plants that the coffee shops doubles as a gift shop. Customers also can look for handmade jewelry, fashion accessories, greeting cards and coffee-themed merchandise.

My coffee arrived with the food, delivered by two employees to our table. The latte was expertly poured with a tulip in the foam. While it was a pretty enough drink with pleasant flavors, I could hardly detect the cardamom and rose that the menu advertised and wished for more.

Similarly, the fennel was not apparent in my sandwich’s aioli, which also took a back seat to a generous quantity of cheese, hefty piece of pork belly and a fried egg whose edges overhung the biscuit. The greens would have brightened the dish, if they had been a bit fresher and more vibrant. I moved the more wilted sprigs to the side of my plate to better enjoy the protein components.

A fan of pickled onions, my friend raved about the tangy, generously portioned slices on her avocado toast. She wasn’t as decisive about the cured egg yolk and wanted my confirmation that the yellow flecks, almost mirroring the freshly ground black pepper in size, were in fact egg yolk.

After such a rich sandwich, I relished the fresh blueberries and raspberries in my parfait. Under its judicious ribbon of honey, the dish was just sweet enough not to detract from the flavors in Forage’s coffee drinks.

Next time, I’d try the scrambled eggs on toast but also have a craving for Forage’s sausage, goat cheese and fennel scone, preferably with one of the shop’s single-origin drip coffees brewed from Washington’s Little Wolf Coffee beans. New origins are featured weekly.

For baked goods, Forage also offers a raspberry bran muffin, “friendship” bread, burnt cheesecake, brown butter-chocolate chunk cookies and vegan brownies.

Located at 529 E. Main St., Forage Coffee Co. is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. See foragecoffeeco.com

Tempo Tidbits
Dick Ellis pours a glass of wine for the Bear Creek Wine Trail Passport event at Pebblestone Cellars near Phoenix. MT file photo.
First Saturday Yoga classes conclude with a flight of wine paired with food at DANCIN Vineyards in Medford. Photo courtesy of DANCIN.
Sandwich buns and breads are gluten-free at Organicos in Phoenix. Photos courtesy of Organicos.

Travel the Bear Creek Wine Trail to taste more than 40 wines and save on each bottle purchased.

The Wine Trail’s “passport” costs $30 and is available at bearcreekwineries.com/passport.html and each of the 14 member wineries. The passport affords three tastes at each winery and a 10% discount on bottles purchased at those locations.

In its 10th year, the Wine Trail encompasses estates and tasting rooms centrally located in Medford, Central Point, Jacksonville, Phoenix, Talent and Ashland. Passports go on sale annually in March and are valid for one year from the date of purchase, used at every winery.

Member wineries are Aurora Vines, Paschal Winery, StoneRiver Vineyard and Trium Wines in Talent; Belle Fiore Winery, Dana Campbell Vineyards, Grizzly Peak Winery, Platt Anderson Cellars and Weisinger Family Winery in Ashland; DANCIN Vineyards, Pebblestone Cellars and RoxyAnn Winery in Medford; and Hummingbird Estate and Ledger David Cellars in Central Point.

See the map and find hours and contact information for individual wineries on the Wine Trail’s website.

Yoga pairs with wine and food at DANCIN Vineyards beginning May 1.

First Saturday Yoga is a collaboration of instructor Lori Grable and DANCIN, which furnishes a flight of three estate wines, accompanied by light bites from the winery’s kitchen with each $25 ticket. Food selections have ranged from special salads, stuffed mushrooms, unique pizzas and other treats not on DANCIN’s regular menu.

Each hourlong yoga class at DANCIN begins at 10:30 a.m. Food and wine follow, concluding at noon. Reserve and view the schedule at dancin.com/yoga. Email lorigrableyoga@gmail.com or info@dancin.com for more information.

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Gluten-free, organic, vegan breads are more widely available from a new Phoenix bakery.

Organicos is again attending Grants Pass Growers Market on Saturdays and Rogue Valley Growers & Crafters Market on Tuesdays in Ashland. Increased production comes on the heels of Organicos’ January reopening at 4495 S. Pacific Highway No. 420. Closed for several months to move operations to a new storefront, Organicos encountered delays for cleanup and repairs following September’s Almeda fire.

Organicos products are featured at 30 locations around the valley, from farmers markets and independent grocers to restaurants and wineries. Fresh pastries and savories are available at farmers markets, Tuesdays and weekends at the bakery and for home delivery with advance purchase at organicosbakery.com/order-online

Hours are 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, or until products sell out. Email organicosbakery@gmail.com for information and special orders or call 541-944-1473 for curbside pickup.

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Have a Tempo tidbit to share? Email news about the local dining, food and beverage scene to: thewholedish@gmail.com

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Sarah Lemon has relished the Rogue Valley’s dining scene for nearly two decades as one of the original contributors to Tempo’s dining column. Her palate has helped to judge some of the region’s culinary competitions and festivals. The former editor of A la Carte, the Mail Tribune’s weekly food section, she writes a biweekly column, The Whole Dish, and blogs and podcasts under the same name. Listen at mailtribune.com/podcasts and read more at mailtribune.com/lifestyle/the-whole-dish. Follow @the.whole. dish on Instagram, @thewholedish on Twitter or see facebook.com/thewholedish.