I had been planning my Portland (Oregon) trip for a few months now and I really started by noting all the coffee places I wanted to try and working everything else around that. Portland is the birthplace of today’s third wave coffee revolution. It all started with Stumptown Coffee which was born there, so you can imaging how excited I was to spend a few days getting way too caffeinated! If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably noticed that I drank a bit too much coffee while I was in Portland (but really, is there such a thing as too much coffee?) I sill slept like a baby every night and looked forward to the next fix every day.
Portland is a small and very accessible city. The downtown core, extending to the gorgeous Pearl District, is easily accessible on foot or by bike. Despite the grey skies and omnipresent rain, Portlandians are happy and always willing to help out with a recommendation or two. I suspect it might have something to do with the abundant coffee and food offerings available.
What’s amazing about the Portland coffee scene is that almost every coffee shop in town is also a roaster. Stumptown still roasts some of its beans in its original location that’s been open since 1999. Did you know that in Portland you can rent a coffee roasting facility for a few hours to roast a batch for your small café? Portlandians are passionate about their coffee and I got a feeling that the coffee community was a tight knit one. I asked a few baristas where they like to drink coffee and they all recommended other cafés wholeheartedly.
Stumptown Coffee Roasters
Stumptown Coffee was born in Portland and is still going strong. There are several locations for this mythical coffee roaster in its birth town, including the original location (SE 45th & Division) and the one at the Ace Hotel where you can grab a cup to enjoy in the funky hotel’s lobby. You will also find that hundreds of spots in the city use Stumptown beans to make their coffee.
Courier Coffee Roasters
This small café is located close to the downtown location of Powell’s Bookstore and right next door to Maurice, a gem of a pastry/lunch spot, which I will tell you about in my next Portland blog post. Courier Coffee might be small in size but it’s big on taste and passion for the craft of coffee making.
Coava started in Matt Higgin’s garage in 2008 and continued with careful sourcing of and partnerships with the right coffee producers and beans. Coava now has 2 locations, in Portland and provides great beans to hundreds more. I had a great latte at their Brew Bar on SE Grand Avenue, “the tasting room to their roastery” and a gorgeous industrial loft space they share with a sustainable bamboo company.
Water Avenue Coffee
Located in an industrial part of the city on the banks of the Willamette River since 2009, this small and bustling coffee shop is nestled inside a commercial building filled with quirky stores and workshops, including the American Barista coffee school next door! I can’t say that I wasn’t tempted to drop everything and enroll! They roast their carefully sourced beans in small batches on a vintage 1974 French Samiac 20-kilo roaster right there on the premises. Water Avenue Coffee offers $1 sidecar shot of espresso with every drink. Watch their Facebook page for public cupping session announcements.
Barista counts 4 locations, one of which is in the Pearl District, a great industrial neighbourhood where I would probably live if I lived in Portland. Barista showcases “exceptional coffees from the world’s finest roasters”, including but not limited to some of Portland’s favourites like Coava, Heart and Stumptown and great flaky pastries from the Roman Candle Baking Co.
Carefully selected beans from single plantations roasted in small batches on a daily basis is what Ristretto Roasters is all about. They have three locations – including inside the fabulous Shcoolhouse Electric Supply Co. which is a haven of vintage lights, homeware and furniture – and supply several others in Portland. Try the steampunk coffee at their Couch location, a fascinating vaccuum way of making coffee. Weekly cupping sessions are available, inquire about dates and locations.
Heart Coffee Roasters
Although it was on my list, I didn’t have a chance to try this coffee shop but I hear it’s very good so if you get the chance, stop by any of their two locations and have one for me.
Olé Latte Coffee Cart
Located among the Alder Street Food Cart pod, the largest one in Portland, is the Olé Latte Coffee Cart. And just because it’s a cart, doesn’t mean the coffee is of lesser quality. Olé Latte roasts its own beans by renting a roasting facility. They produce some of the best coffee in town so make sure to stop by after sampling some of the food carts around or going on a fun, informative and delicious food cart tour with Food Carts Portland.
Expect one or two more articles about Portland, especially the food scene there which is as exhilarating as the coffee one. In the meantime, check out my Portland Google map here with all the places I visited marked down for your convenience.