People sipping coffee at a bus stop is a common sight. People making black sesame lattes inside a bus stop is another matter.
On drizzly mornings in downtown Portland, Oregon, within a converted vintage transit stop enclosure, people are routinely savoring specialty espresso-based concoctions and drip coffees crafted on site by Ryan Jie Jiang at Less And More Coffee.
Since late last year, Jiang has been offering creative concoctions composed of locally roasted coffees from a bar built into downtown’s lone remaining 1970s transit mall shelter. Similar structures in the area were replaced with modernized stops between 2007-2009 as the city’s bus and light rail systems expanded, though this one was preserved and since been leased to various coffee purveyors.
Though the structure doesn’t hold much nostalgic value for Jiang, who moved to Portland from Los Angeles in 2020, its contoured coolness high visibility to passersby on foot have proven to buoy the young business.
Coffees for the shop are roasted by Less and More business partner Joe Yang, the owner and roaster of fellow downtown Portland company Super Joy Coffee.
“The beauty of Portland always had a special place in my heart,” Jiang told Daily Coffee News. “I moved to Portland in the middle of the pandemic. When I opened Less And More, tourism was nonexistent and most of the office workers were working remotely. Downtown Portland was a ghost town. I was not confident I could succeed, but thanks to the encouragement of Joe Yang and my supportive wife, I was able to make it happen.”
Inside the 250-square-foot, glass-enclosed, brass-accented space, Jiang runs a Synesso S200 espresso machine paired with a Mazzer Robur S grinder, and a two-group Fetco batch brewer paired with a Mahlkönig EK43 that also grinds for manual pourovers.
These lay the basis for traditional espresso and brewed coffee drinks, as well as original treats such as a Tiramisu Latte and more adventurous options inspired by Jiang’s heritage.
“I was born and raised in China, and also lived in South Korea,” Jiang, who was a barista in China before moving to the United States in 2012, told DCN. “Living in these two culturally rich countries has inspired many of my drinks. My exposure to flavors ranging from herbs to exotic berries allowed me to experiment to come up with new drinks.”
Coming soon to the Less And More Coffee menu is the Enjoy Me Latte, which is topped with a cold soy-based cream reminiscent of a traditional Korean rice cake called Injoelme. Another original option is an Omija Ade, made with omija berries that Jiang sources from Korea, and simmers with sugar for six hours to make a strong concentrated syrup.
“Translated to English, omija means a five-flavor berry: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and pungency,” said Jiang. “When mixed with sparkling water, it becomes the perfect refreshing summer beverage. Best of all, you can taste all five flavors.”
As word of Jiang’s coffee and creativity continues to spread, Less And More has become less of a location for a convenient coffee fix and more of a downtown destination.
“I never imagined Less And More would be a destination coffee shop, but I’m very grateful for every single customer that gave us love and support,” said Jiang. “To appreciate them, I want to have two more locations in the next two years.”
Howard Bryman is the associate editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine. He is based in Portland, Oregon.