Portland's best cafes: Where our critic drinks coffee in Portland – OregonLive.com
Like most journalists, my need for caffeine is near-bottomless, typically including a cup of coffee or three each morning, an espresso or macchiato (or two) in the early afternoon. Below, find some of my favorite places to sip some of my favorite Portland coffees, including Heart, Coava, Stumptown and more. Know of a place I should visit? Let me know.
Coava Coffee Roasters: Fantastic coffee with an obsessional attention to detail, Coava has two cafes of its own, including one in a bamboo design showroom (1300 S.E. Grand Ave.), another in new construction (2631 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd.), plus a third on the way downtown. Dogbone Farm (2880 S.E. Division St.), a vintage delivery truck parked at Tidbit food cart pod and overseen by a handsome German shepherd, does a great job with Coava. Barista, Billy Wilson’s outstanding mini chain, which cycles through different coffee roasters but often features Coava (539 N.W. 13th Ave., 529 S.W. 3rd Ave. #110, 823 N.W. 23rd Ave., 1725 N.E. Alberta St.).
Courier Coffee Roasters: This 10-year-old Portland roaster is an essential part of any shopping trip downtown, especially one with a stop at Powell’s City of Books, just up the hill. Years ago, I used to run into owner Joel Domreis biking his fresh-roasted coffee to cafes all over town. He’s still delivering those beans on two wheels, and today, his cafe (923 S.W. Oak St.) acts as something of a front desk for the city, drawing tourists from as far away as Topeka or Tokyo for coffee and canelés.
Heart Coffee Roasters: Lords of the light, bright coffee roast, pro-snowboarder-turned-coffee-roaster Wille Yli-Luoma’s coffees are beautifully presented at Heart’s two cafes (2211 E. Burnside St. and 537 S.W. 12th Ave.). Seek it out at Sellwood’s charming Either/Or (8235 S.E. 13th Ave. #2) as well, where Heart is often among the featured coffees, or at a sleek newcomer, Locale (4330 N. Mississippi Ave.), which serves espresso early and vermouth late.
Ristretto Roasters: Design nerds take note: This Portland roaster’s three locations — plus a third on the way in The Oregonian’s former headquarters — are all stunners, with clean lines and hip, urban-industrial detail. I’m partial to the airy cafe in Northwest Portland’s Schoolhouse Electric building (2181 NW Nicolai St.), though the Northeast (555 N.E. Couch St.) and North Portland (3808 N. Williams Ave.) cafes both have some serious charm.
Stumptown Coffee Roasters: News flash: Four years after taking a large investment from TSG Consumer Partners (and just one month after being purchased by Peet’s), Portland’s best-known coffee company still roasts some fantastic beans. For my money, the best places to sip Stumptown today include See See Motor Coffee Co. (1642 N.E. Sandy Blvd.), the Albina Presses (4637 N. Albina Ave. and 5012 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd.), Stumptown’s original cafe at 4525 S.E. Division St. and Stumptown founder Duane Sorenson’s two-year-old bakery, Roman Candle (3377 S.E. Division St.).
Also try: Water Avenue Coffee (1028 S.E. Water Ave. #145) pours a nice macchiato and serves Farina’s colorful macarons; Ole Latte’s quirky carts are a welcome presence in downtown Portland (1003 S.W. Alder St. and Southwest Fifth Avenue at Harrison Street); North Portland’s The Arbor Lodge (1507 N. Rosa Parks Way) treats Roseline, Tanager and their house-roasted coffees with proper respect; the Red E serves house-roasted coffee from two friendly cafes (1006 N. Killingsworth St. and 721 N.W. Ninth Ave.); when I’m in the mood for darker roasts or the city’s top affogato, I visit downtown Portland’s shoebox-sized Spella cafe (520 S.W. Fifth Ave); no visit to Northwest portland is complete without a visit to one of Sterling Coffee Roaster’s two handsome cafes (417 N.W. 21st Ave. and 1951 W. Burnside St.).
— Michael Russell