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Case Coffee and community spirit at Rise Coffeehouse

A former Wesleyan church on East Jackson Street has been transformed into a polished neighborhood coffeehouse promising coffee, community and creativity.

Rise Coffeehouse, 1123 E. Jackson St., Medford, is set back from the street next door to the ever-popular Donut Country and deserves to draw the same steady crowds.

When the church’s congregation outgrew its 83-year-old building, it decided to revamp the space and lease the property to Rise Coffeehouse, says John Howell, pastor at The Rising Church and one of the investors in the separate corporation that owns and operates the coffeehouse. The project ensured that the old church would be an asset to the neighborhood instead of an aging, vacant building in danger of sliding into disrepair, he explains.

My husband and I stopped in on a Saturday morning to check out this promising addition to the east Medford neighborhood.

Spacious and light-filled, the coffeehouse is a welcoming space with an attractive interplay of dark and light woodwork, much of it the original fir, now burnished to a high gloss after a lengthy restoration process. A simple list of coffee drinks is painted right on the wall in block letters; menus with more details about hot drinks, iced drinks and smoothies are displayed on clipboards on the long bar.

Ashland’s award-winning Case Coffee supplies the beans at Rise Coffeehouse, and Case trained Rise’s staff to make its coffee to exacting standards. If you want to brew it at home, you can buy bags of coffee beans, too.

A summer morning is the perfect time to try a cold-brew coffee, so that is what my husband ordered. The Rise’s $4 cold-brew coffee is brewed daily, then dispensed from a tap “on nitro” just like a proper pour of Guinness at your favorite pub. The coffee arrived on ice in a pint glass topped with a creamy swirl of tiny nitrogen bubbles that gave it a mellow smoothness and surprisingly full-bodied mouthfeel without any actual cream. My husband proclaimed it one of the best cold brews he’s had.

I ordered a $3.50 cappuccino, a drink that showcases a barista’s skill and tastes terrific whatever the weather. Made with a decaf Colombian bean, it was richly flavorful with an almost spicy aroma and a photogenic fern pattern in the foam.

For a bite to accompany our coffee, we turned to a small, counter-top bakery case that displayed a few cookies, miniature quiches and a marionberry oat bar. The baked goods come from Artisan Bakery, and from Butcher & Baker, a catering operation run by Rogue Valley chefs Steen Turner and Hallie Conlan when they aren’t serving up delicious Asian-inspired dishes through Nguyen Street Food.

The sturdy little quiche I ordered for $4 was flavorful, its thin layer of filling packed with sun-dried tomatoes and spinach. The buttery, crumbly marionberry oat square my husband selected had a hint of almond flavor and nicely complemented the coffee.

Rise hopes to expand its food offerings as it builds its clientele, and I predict that with its quality coffee and welcoming atmosphere that growth could happen soon.

Howell also hopes to host open-mic nights for musicians, poets and other performers, and make the coffeehouse, including its semi-private conference room, available for meetings and presentations by area nonprofits. From 7 to 11 p.m. Friday, Aug. 4, Rise will have a game night, welcoming all ages to bring board games and settle in for some coffee and companionship. Drip coffee, including decaf, will be available for $1.

Rise Coffeehouse’s regular hours are from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday. It is closed Sunday. Call 541-499-6389, see risecoffeehouse.com, or look for Rise on Facebook or Instagram.

Cappucino made from Columbian beans and a miniature quiche at Rise Coffeehouse in Medford. [Photo by Anita Burke]