Sleepy eyes and dragging feet, flipping pages and clacking keys, mumbled smiles and blushing cheeks make up the morning Rain or Shine Coffee House ensemble performance. A line always backs up against the door as customers await their drinks with patient anticipation. An order is placed, a drink card is stamped, and a steaming sermon is delivered in a paper cup. And while the drink is fantastic and enlightening, it is over and gone too soon, so you return to the counter. One of these sublime baristas is Jordan McFarland, LARPing enthusiast, and Dundee, Oregon native.
McFarland started working at Rain or Shine for the same reason that it’s a neighborhood favorite: the community. He has quickly become a Tabor favorite and the cause of many early morning smiles that could have been frowns. Rain or Shine is the go-to spot for Franklin students. McFarland never had this. He was raised in a small town where there was not a coffee shop. A town over, in Newberg, there was Coffee Cottage. The place always served as a cool music spot for him and his friends to visit on occassion. Without a coffee guru, he, as many teenagers do, began dabbling in energy drinks. He grew up and moved to Portland, the city of lights, for all youth who lack the funds to make it across the pond.
His first job as a young Portlander was as a parking garage security guard on the West side at the Multnomah Athletic Club. He described the experience as “hell work.” Working for some of Portland’s wealthiest residents, he reflects, “I just stood between two lanes of traffic. No seat, no booth. Just stood between two lanes of traffic and waved at cars.” His neighbor happened to work at a World Cup Coffee and knew they had openings. Knowing Jordan was not thrilled about his current employment, he reached out.
World Cup Coffee has three basic tiers in which they operate. At the top is their most profitable endeavor, which is the sale of coffee machines. At the bottom is their coffee shop, which serves as a means of advertising more than anything else. They did not care that Jordan had zero experience in a town where you could toss a bottle of overpriced kombucha and hit someone who had more experience. With his personable attitude, he was able to get trained in a way not many young adults can obtain in Portland anymore.
From there he moved to Rocking Frog Cafe, a cute little place on lower Belmont where there was less conversation and more a chorus of typing keys.“I didn’t need a job, I already had a job…I saw they were hiring and it seemed like such a community spot. It seemed like something I’d like.”
When Jordan is not creating art behind the counter, he can be found making art at his apartment. He dabbles in oddities, pieces that he makes for his own expression. These extend from painting to running Life Action Role Plays, or LARPs. He recently participated in a scenario where he walked on stilts and got to play a member of an enlightened race. His friend adventitiously invited him try it out, and just as he had with being a barista, he fell in love.
Through a slew of serendipitous moments, McFarland found his way to the Tabor neighborhood. There’s a reason Rain or Shine is called a coffee house, because to some it feels like home. A sweet little place with couches and kind employees, employees like McFarland who can make a customer, or a member of the Franklin community, feel like they can make it through one more day. So if you have not gotten a chance to meet Jordan, stop on by Rain or Shine. He might even tell you about the time he was abducted by aliens.