It’s hip to be Portland

Ah, hipsters. Let’s see – what do I know about hipsters?

Ani DiFranco once mused about building an army of ornery hipsters.

Huey Lewis suggested being square was a hip thing (and just so we’re clear, his The News wasn’t us.)(We weren’t hip enough.)(Or square enough.)

In some parts of Maine, hipsters are whatcha wear fly-fishin’.

And now – the latest and greatest on the hipster front: Travel + Leisure magazine just named Portland, Maine, as the 5th best city for hipsters – right after Seattle, the other Portland, San Francisco (motto – we’re the West Coast Portland!) and New Orleans. And right ahead of Providence – take that, Rhode Island!

I’ve got to admit – they’re right about my city. You’ve got your Maine College of Art hipsters roaming around Congress Street most days. You’ve got those longboard skate rats who can actually ride those things on cobblestones. On the first Friday night of  each month, you have your art-patrony hipsters coming in for First Friday Art Walk.

And you’ve got my friend Brian, a too-cool photographer (one of about 30,000 in Portland) who’s come to resemble Elvis Costello more and more with each passing year. He’s so hip, he went to SXSW this year. I’m so hip, I vaguely know what that is. Some sort of cross-country biathlon thing, I think.

Anyhoo — In its listing for our fair city, Travel + Leisure suggested that we Mainers have great palates for food and drink, and scored fifth place because of our breweries including Shipyard, Allagash and Gritty’s (Baxter Brewing, alas, is upta Lewiston, not in Portland) and thanks to our great coffee.

It specifically recommends local java chain Coffee by Design for “caffeinated hipster watching.”

This is the second national mention in the recent past for Coffee by Design. It made Zagat.com’s list of 10 coolest independent coffee shops back in December.

Mary Allen Lindemann, CBD’s co-owner and co-founder, said each one of these recent listings touting the coolness of Portland is a great compliment.

“Here we’re this little city, and we keep landing in these great places,” said Lindemann.

CBD opened just about 18 years ago, and the city’s come a long way, she said. At the time, there was a 40 percent vacancy rate in the downtown. Travel + Leisure notes that Congress Street was “once seedy, now thriving.”

Lindemann said Portland has emerged as a hotspot for slow food, buy local and many of the other sustainable trends that are catching on.

“We are Portland, Maine. It means great food, a great community; a community that really cares about our environment,” she said.

She said at CBD, they’ve worked to stay true to quality, service and coffee “without the attitude.” She said they all try to be authentic in how they treat their customers, vendors, etc. That’s why, she said, the hipster designation is so interesting to her.

“I don’t, personally, quite relate to it,” said Lindemann.

But she asked a younger person in her employ, and they suggested that hipsters are people ahead of the trends. That, Lindemann can relate to. CBD was practicing sustainable origin coffee sourcing before it was the rage, for example.

“Chai – 17 years ago you couldn’t give it away,” she notes.

CBD has three locations in Portland, on Congress, India Street and Washington Avenue, and has more than 500 wholesale accounts nationwide.

Whether or not Lindemann sees it – they’re pretty hip.

(Of course, so am I. I referenced Ani DiFranco, didn’t I?)