Speed-o Cappuccino’s candy pink coffee cart stands out against the otherwise drab southeastern strip of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Oak Street. His Progress Pride flag – a version of the Pride flag that Oregon graphic designer Daniel Quasar created to include the trans community – waves like a friendly hello or a sashay.
“People can tell if it’s going to be their thing, so people don’t approach us if it doesn’t,” said cart co-owner Dahlia Hanson. WW. “They eliminate themselves, usually.”
Hanson and Joseph Miller opened Speed-o across from Sheridan Fruit Company in July. Their goal: to fold the binary flamed by bikini baristas before them, while maintaining bold visibility and an unabashed commitment to nurturing LGBTQ + and allied Portlanders.
Hanson, a four-year Portland strip club dancer, envisioned Speed-o as a queer-accepting oasis where sex workers could make money while beautifying the Central Eastside.
“It seems like there are a lot of spaces for cis women to come out, so I wanted to create a super queer and more inclusive space,” they say.
Miller and Hanson hired non-binary people and trans and cisgender men to outfit their cart, describing the workforce as “himbos, thembos and flirts” on the cart’s social media pages.
Speed-o prioritizes personality over physical attributes when researching new baristas, but owners don’t ask flirts to act aggressively, like the infamous Dutch Bros Coffee “broistas”.
“You can teach people how to brew coffee,” says Hanson. “You can’t teach people to be friendly and kind. It kind of emanates from them.
In the summer, most of the Speed-o employees served filter coffee and Spanish cortados (a cappuccino with equal parts of espresso and milk), dressed in cropped tops and pink shorts. That’s not common. The winter uniform is also skimpy on the brand: sweat shorts and a t-shirt. But the cart has radiators angled for the convenience of the employees.
Speed-o’s brunch menu is bright and colorful enough to wake diners up or restore them after a long night at the neighboring Coffin Club. The assortment of peanut butter, banana slices, almond granola, coconut shavings, cocoa nibs and honey on the Glory Bowl Toast Plate is the sweetest pun in the world. breakfast south of Voodoo Donut.
The cart also pays homage to musician Lil Nas X’s first merging genre album with its Montero bowl: Nutella, strawberries, blueberries, honey, cocoa nibs and sesame seeds.
“We’re big fans of Lil Nas X,” Miller said. “I feel like, for me personally, growing up listening to rap, there’s so much misogyny and homophobia in rap, and then you have Lil Nas X coming out, and it’s like: “Oh, he’s the craziest person ever. “
While almost every breakfast stop has a tried and true mortgage-destroying version of avocado toast, Speed-o’s definitely seems worth checking out. The toast is topped with avocado slices, marinated ripe tomatoes, pickled asparagus, radishes, shallots and lush arugula, dressed in pink beetroot and cilantro aioli.
As Speed-o kicks off its first winter season, it’s making Christmas in a cup: a peppermint white mocha latte that puts Mariah Carey in the holiday mood. But when it comes to the signature Speed-o latte, go for coconut in syrup form instead of shavings. The floating flakes give the drink a creamy texture.
When asked where the cart is heading, Hanson said they are planning a drive-thru window as the next phase in Speed-o’s evolution. Service is walk-in for now, and there’s a shared seat deal at nearby Asian-Hispanic fusion franchise Zero Degrees.
“I think it would really expand the audience, especially during the fall and winter,” Hanson says of a drive-thru. “No one wants to be blown away.”
TO DRINK: Speed-o Cappuccino, 402 SE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 503-754-4371, speed-o-cappuccino.business.site. 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday to Sunday.