My coffee journey – at least the interesting part – began in Portland. In college, I was introduced to the euphoria that accompanies that first sip of coffee in the morning. At that point, I was using a shoddy batch brewer that I probably found on the street or something. After college (and, more importantly, once I was employed), I graduated to a Keurig machine.
Then I went to Portland for the first time. Specifically, to Coava Coffee, where I had an Ethiopian coffee – Kilenso – that I still remember to this day. It was bright, juicy, berry-y, and was so incredibly different from any other cup of coffee I had ever had in my life.
From that moment onwards, I was all aboard the discovery train when it comes to coffee. Some (read: Alysha) would say I was all aboard the train to becoming a coffee snob. Fast forward to present day, and I spend fifteen minutes crafting the perfect pour over every single morning (usually multiple times a morning).
I’ll happily travel far and wide to try different origins, brewing methods, coffee cocktails, and more. Alysha isn’t a coffee drinker – she’s never had a cup of it in her life – so this guide is all Matt’s perspective.
Before we get into talking about the best coffee shops in Portland, we should acknowledge that there’s a nearly unlimited amount of great coffee to be had in Portland. Just about every coffee shop that has stayed in business here has cleared a pretty high bar for coffee already. At this point, you can essentially walk down any street in Portland and get a solid cup.
What I’m looking for here are tastes and experiences that are hard to find elsewhere. In this guide, I’m going to give you my perspective on coffee shops in Portland that bring something a little extra. That might be a rotation of cool seasonal drinks, access to coffees that you can’t find elsewhere, new and interesting preparation methods, and more.
My point is that this is all subjective, and this is just the list of one guy who happens to both live in Portland and love coffee.
If you have other places that you frequent and enjoy, I’d love to hear them! As I dive deeper into the coffee scene here, I’ll be adding to this list with the places I’ve found. Think of it as an ever-evolving list!
Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post, like hotel and vacation rental links, are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you we make a little bit of money if you click through and book. That being said, we would absolutely never recommend something to you that we don’t stand behind 100%.
Where to Find the Best Coffee in Portland, Oregon: 16 Fantastic Portland Coffee Shops
Like I mentioned above, there are a nearly unlimited number of places to get great coffee here in Portland. Because of that, I want to talk about the (completely subjective) way I’m organizing these. It’s unscientific.
I’m including places that I think offer something a little different from the crowd – innovative specialty lattes, or a unique selection of single origin beans, for example – and I’m ordering them by starting with my favorite spots.
Though, it should be noted that the top 5-6 are all amazing, and it comes down to what kind of experience you’re looking for.
I generally won’t include a place on this list that I’ve only been to once, so I’ll be adding to it over time as I have the chance to dive deeper into Portland’s coffee scene.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about where to find the best coffee in Portland according to, well, me!
Proud Mary Coffee
When I want a special cup of coffee, I go to the Proud Mary cafe on Alberta. It’s the place I recommend to all the coffee lovers in my life who are coming to Portland. In fact, as I’m writing this, I have just gotten back from Proud Mary where I had a cup of Yemeni coffee from their “Deluxe” tier that was very nice.
Proud Mary is based in Melbourne, Australia, and before we get into what their Portland cafe is like, I want to briefly touch on how my trip to Melbourne way back when impacted my coffee journey.
Australian cafe culture is world-famous. Chocolate-dusted cappuccino (which is the best kind of cappuccino, really), avocado toast (believe it or not, our trip to Australia is where we first discovered avocado toast… now we eat it so often that we can’t afford a house, thanks Australia!), and leafy patios are found all across Australia’s major cities.
But Melbourne is on a whole different level. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Melbourne is the best coffee city in the world, and that is where Proud Mary hails from.
After Australia, I quickly descended into the rabbit hole that is coffee, and went from making my morning cup with a Keurig (which, looking back, is a horrible decision because of all the waste they produce) to owning a temperature-controlled kettle and all the pour over contraptions.
Their only location in the US is their coffee shop in Portland on Alberta Street. And it’s my favorite place to go in Portland for coffee that I’m not making myself (though I also regularly buy their coffee for my morning coffee ritual at home).
I’m focused on the coffee here, so I’m not going to touch on their brunch / food menu. Their coffee menu is split into at least three parts.
First, there are the espresso-based drinks – your cappuccinos, lattes, and macchiatos (PS order the Magic, which is a slightly different take on a cappuccino or macchiato that is basically only found in Melbourne). Don’t be surprised when your cappuccino comes dusted with chocolate, which is how they do it in Australia (and other parts of the world).
They also have a selection of single origin coffees that can be prepared as espresso or Americano.
Next there are the filter coffees. They have a rotating selection of batch-brew coffees – and they have multiple to choose from, which I appreciate – along with a selection of a few coffees that can be done as a pour over.
When I was there, they had a coffee from Papua New Guinea processed three different ways (anaerobic washed, anaerobic natural, and anaerobic honey), and you could get a flight to try all three, which is a fun way to experience the breadth of flavors coffee can bring.
Last, but certainly not least, are the deluxe pour over options. These are going to run you $10-15 a cup, but they are coffees that you basically can’t get anywhere else. If you’re into coffee and want to try something unique and exclusive, it’s a fun experience.
I tried the Yemeni coffee, which was recommended by the barista, and enjoyed it. Is paying $15 for a cup of coffee an everyday thing? Definitely not. Is it worth doing once? Sure!
Less and More Coffee
If you’re walking down SW 5th Avenue in Portland towards Pioneer Courthouse Square, you might notice a line forming outside of what appears to be an old school abandoned bus shelter on the west side of the street.
I had walked by this location several times before curiosity got the best of me. Even Alysha, who knows how much I enjoy a new coffee shop experience, pointed it out to me multiple times before I ever got around to stopping in.
And now, Less and More has catapulted to somewhere near the top of my list of favorite Portland coffee shops (as evidenced by its placement here at number two).
At a very, very high level, there are two archetypes of coffee shops in Portland – those that lean into specialty coffee, with fancy pour over options and single origin espresso, and those that lean more into the specialty latte side of things.
In my experience, it’s rare to find both of those things done really, really well in one place.
I would argue that Less and More, started by Ryan Jie Jiang who came to Portland from L.A. in search of a place where he could actually afford to start his own shop, is top tier in both of those aspects.
I have had the pleasure of chatting with Ryan over morning coffee a couple of times now, nerding out about coffee and sharing favorite coffee shops around the country.
I asked him about L.A.’s coffee scene, and he pointed me to a few new places that I had never heard of, along with Dayglow and Kumquat/Loquat, two of my favorites.
In a city (world, really) where it’s getting harder and harder to find single cup pour over brews (which totally makes sense given the time and skill/training it takes to do them well in a busy cafe setting), it’s refreshing to see a list of 4-5 single origin pour over coffee options.
The second location, which is a storefront just off of Pioneer Courthouse Square, only opened up in the past year, is the place to go for their pour over options (they don’t serve them out of the original bus shelter location).
They use an April Brewer – a flat bottom brewer that comes from Copenhagen and is my favorite of the many flat bottom options out there on the market today – and this is the first time I’ve seen one used in North America. The simplicity of the pour structure used with the April probably contributes to their ability to pull it off.
Over three visits to the shop, I tried three different single origin coffees. I started with a funky anaerobic coffee from Yunnan in China, which is an origin that I rarely see in Portland, a gesha from Finca la Bastilla in Nicaragua, and an incredible Acevedo Pink Bourbon that was, as the barista put it, like fruit punch.
The specialty drinks are the other standout here. They include a few more standard drinks, like a tiramisu or Spanish latte, but the highlights are absolutely the more eclectic concoctions inspired by aspects of Ryan’s background and experience with Korean and Chinese cultures.
The custard cream latte, while rich and basically dessert in a cup, is a fantastic blend of flavors and textures (even Alysha, a coffee hater, enjoyed it), and bringing in ingredients that you don’t often see in specialty lattes, like soybean powder or mugwort.
For what it’s worth, this is one of the places I brought my older brother when he was in town.
He is, of course, the elder coffee geek, and I brought him here specifically for the pink bourbon that tastes like fruit punch, and the Enjoyme Latte, which combines soybean powder and their house made custard cream (which, as I said above, is a delight).
Given the convenient location downtown, I would absolutely recommend a stop here if you’re into coffee and want to try something new and fresh.
Address: 1003 SW 5th Ave (bus shelter downtown), 811 SW 6th Ave (storefront near Pioneer Courthouse Square)
PDX Coffee Club
Did you know there’s a food hall in Portland down near the riverfront, right next to Luc Lac? Neither did I until I went searching for PDX Coffee Club, which is essentially a 4 foot wide coffee cart on the second floor of said food hall.
It certainly doesn’t look like much… yet. But Joe, the owner and operator here, has big plans to expand into the beautiful space behind the blue-green tiled counter next to the cart where the pastries and bags of coffee currently live.
You might have noticed that I like to categorize things into neat and tidy groups, and PDX Coffee Club, which is fast approaching its one year anniversary, is a unique approach that I don’t think I’ve ever encountered in my travels in the US or abroad.
I’m a sucker for a multi-roaster (I like to call them “coffee curators” as opposed to roasters), and the approach here is fairly unique as multi-roaster cafes go. Usually, they’re bringing in beans from around the world (you tend to see a lot of nordic roasters).
However, here, they’re keeping it more local.
Joe, who has tons and tons of experience in coffee running cafes for Blue Bottle and Proud Mary (among others), is passionate about introducing people to all of the amazing roasters right here in Portland.
All of the beans used to make coffee here are from Portland, and Joe has a borderline encyclopedic knowledge of Portland coffee roasters.
He even introduced Matt, a huge coffee nerd who loves discovering new roasters, to a new roaster in town! It was Mae, if you’re curious.
This is another place I bring all of my friends and family who are into coffee, and the main reason for that is Joe.
Joe is everything you could possibly want in a barista – friendly, incredibly knowledgeable (hard to find someone more nerdy about coffee than Matt – and I mean that in a good way), and an all-in-all good hang.
On our first visit to the shop, we sat and chatted with Joe for nearly an hour, covering everything from the optimal mineral content for brewing coffee to what milks are the best for frothing to the ins and outs of managing a cafe, which is the side of coffee that I am decidedly less knowledgeable about, but very interested in learning about.
So, in summary, the two reasons to come here are to try coffees from Portland’s best roasters prepared by a true expert, and to experience some of the most friendly, open service in Portland.
One important thing to know about PDX Coffee Club – they only do espresso-based drinks and tea here due to space limitations. If you’re looking for filter coffee, you’ll have to head elsewhere (I’d suggest either Courier or Less and More, which are both nearby).
In basically every city I’ve ever been to, there’s always one coffee shop that stands out from the rest and instantly becomes a favorite of mine.
In Portland, that place is undoubtedly Adapt Cafe, a new shop (they opened four months ago at the time of writing) on Milwaukie Avenue just south of Powell.
Here’s why I fell in love.
As you read through this guide, you’ll quickly start to see that Portland is an excellent coffee city. On just about every block in the core of the city, you’ll be able to find a really, really solid cup of coffee. It’s ridiculous.
However, the downside is that a lot of the coffee shops in Portland are essentially the same. To explain why I say that, let me take a second to cover how I think about different kinds of coffee shops.
There are essentially three kinds of coffee shops in my mind.
First, there are the roasters, who roast their own coffee and serve it in their cafes.
Then there are the “monogamists” that work with one roaster, and use their coffee in their cafes (in Portland, you see this a lot, and they’re usually working with Coava or Heart).
The last type, and one that I’ve struggled to find in Portland, is the curators. They bring in beans from different roasters (bonus points if it’s from roasters around the world!) and serve different coffees than you find at most of the normal coffee shops in any given city.
As soon as I walked into Adapt and saw Manhattan Coffee Roasters from Rotterdam on the shelf, I knew I was in for a treat.
Nick, the owner/operator was behind the bar, and introduced me to their options. I went with a drip coffee (Colombian beans roasted by Manhattan), and sat in the corner as Nick talked shop with another coffee professional.
Aside from Nick’s passion for trying new coffees and roasters and bringing them in for locals to try something new, there are a couple of other things I like about Adapt.
- Nick is the owner, operator, barista, finance guy, partnerships manager, and plenty of other titles that I’m probably missing. His passion for trying something a little different is the energy behind the shop, and in my ten minutes or so of chatting with him, I loved his approach and enthusiasm.
- They work with different local artists and vendors, some of which they sell in the shop, some they host popups for. You’ll find beautiful ceramics (from Storied Objects), lovely flower arrangements (from Ruysch), and more. Nick also mentioned that he has plans to expand this part of the offering as time goes on.
Anyway, if you want the chance to try a roaster you’ve never seen before, Adapt is the place to go in Portland.
Address: 4280 SE Milwaukie Avenue (Southeast Portland)
Courier Coffee Roasters
Courier Coffee Roasters is one of my favorite coffee shops in Downtown Portland, right near Powell’s Books. The reason? They unapologetically chart their own path.
While there is certainly no shortage of great coffee shops in Downtown Portland, Courier is a community staple that has been operating in Portland for more than a decade. The name comes from the fact that they used to hand-deliver coffee to Portlanders via bicycle.
It’s not as high-tech and hip as many of the other coffee shops in Portland, but the coffee itself is right up there with the best of them. And it’s a unique approach to focus on the coffee and the experience.
There’s a record player running (now that they allow indoor seating), the staff are friendly and chatty, and it’s just generally a very warm, inviting, inclusive atmosphere.
They roast their own beans, and have a rotating filter coffee available each day, along with the usual range of espresso drinks and cold brew.
One thing I love is that the owner and small team have done a lot of the work on the shop themselves.
My first experience here was during winter of 2021, when it was a weird time to be in Downtown Portland because it was eerily quiet, and I got to meet the owner and chat about what he was doing as he was in the process of putting plastic up to create a to-go window.
Since then, I’ve been back several times and it seems like there’s always something new being built or installed. Which I think is cool.
The owner is also an avid baker, so they also have great pastries (caneles!) and host popups with various local vendors. Currently, Soen – a Japanese food and art brand – is operating out of the same space (Saturday to Monday, 11:00 am to 3:00 pm). Go right at 11:00 am if you want to try their kakigōri!
Address: 923 SW Oak Street (Downtown)
Minimalist. Clean. Hip. Those are all words I would use to describe the design of Heart’s coffee shops. I’ve had their beans many times over the years, and they never seem to disappoint.
In a lot of ways, they’re one of the leaders in the specialty coffee revolution that has happened in the Pacific Northwest over the past decade or two.
Though their footprint in Portland has contracted over the past few years, which have been a tough time to be in the business of operating coffee shops, they turned their focus to wholesale and direct-to-consumer distribution.
They still have a location on Burnside just east of the river, and one down on Woodstock in southeast Portland, though their downtown location has closed.
In particular, I love Stereo, their all-around blend that changes throughout the year. It’s a perfect balance of those sweet, chocolatey notes and a hint of brightness.
To illustrate how much of a crowd-pleaser it is, take my mother-in-law and I. My mother-in-law likes her coffee roasted DARK, and I got her a bag of Stereo for Chrismtas and she enjoyed it. Contrast that with me, who likes my coffee roasted as light as humanly possible.
I use Stereo as my base espresso bean at home almost daily. It’s a crowd pleaser!
One thing I like about Heart is their Transparency Report, which is something few companies in any industry take the time to think about, let alone put together. It takes a long, hard look at Heart’s impact on the supply chain, including the farmers they buy from, and gives you insight into the exact prices they pay for coffee.
It’s a cool thing to read through, and shows how much thought and care goes into the direct relationships they have with farmers, and how seriously they take those relationships.
Never Coffee Lab
The thing I love about Never Coffee Lab is their inventive signature lattes. Sure, their regular espresso-based drinks are great too, but if we’re talking about things that stand out, it’s 100% their signature drinks.
Oh, and their design aesthetic. They have two shops – one on Belmont towards Tabor, and one in the heart of Downtown Portland, and both are immaculately designed. From the colorblocked coffee bags to the minimalist-but-colorful menu and mugs. It’s fantastic.
They also roast their own beans, and have a bunch of blends in colorful bags, and single origin offerings in the white bags.
I’ve been to both of their cafes multiple times each, and it’s the place I take people who like coffee, but not the super nerdy and intense single-origin-talk-about-anaerobic-science kind.
I’m not usually one to go for sweet, flavored lattes, but when in Rome, right? I asked the (very friendly) barista what they recommended between the Midnight Oil (fennel seed, star anise, black licorice) and the Hunny (jasmine, dark chocolate, wildflower honey) and landed on the Midnight Oil because it feels more unique.
I can confirm that their lattes are, in fact, delicious.
Here are the different flavors they have available at the time of writing:
- Pop: Matcha, tart cherry, Market lime
- Hunny: Flowering jasmine, dark chocolate, wildflower honey
- Yuzu & Salt: Yuzu, sansho pepper, burned sugar, coconut cream
- Midnight Oil: Sweet fennel seed, star anise, black licorice
- Oregon: Cascade hops, dulce de leche, Jacobsen Sea salt
Alysha (a coffee hater) also tried the Pop (tart cherry, matcha, lime) and it was okay (most of the cherry flavor ended up at the bottom we realized after drinking 90% of the drink).
Overall, highly recommend Never Coffee if you’re looking for something a little different, and skew more towards ordering flavored lattes.
Prince Coffee is on Fremont Street in Beaumont (near Pip’s Original Donuts and Chai, which is on our list of the best donuts in Portland). It’s a straight shot down Fremont from where we live, and it’s one of our favorite Portland coffee spots.
In a city full of monogamists, I love that Prince is a little promiscuous with the coffees they bring in from various roasters, mainly from the Pacific Northwest. It’s nothing too crazy, but variety is the spice of
life coffee, so I like that they have a range of options available.
In early 2023, they’ve announced that they’re going to start bringing in European roasters, starting with La Cabra from Denmark. Which I, for one, am really excited about because I love a good light roast, which is what a lot of roasters in northern Europe are all about.
As you step into the door, you’re greeted with tones of navy blue and light wood, high ceilings, and plenty of greenery. There are a bunch of great coffee and tea accessories available here too, if you’re looking for a new coffee contraption to take home.
The most unique part of the experience here is the touches of Dutch culture that come through their menu, which includes a Stroop Latte. Of course, that item is inspired by the stroopwafel.
Side note: If you ever find yourself in Amsterdam, make sure to go to the Albert Cuyp market for a freshly pressed stroopwafel that will change your life.
Why Dutch? Katie Prinsen, who owns Prince, spent chunks of her childhood visiting family in the Netherlands, and began a lifelong love affair with stroopwafels.
La Perlita was probably my favorite find during our entire time in Portland before we moved here permanently. We originally discovered them when they were in the Pearl District, and now they’ve migrated into Northeast Portland, which is far more convenient for our house.
If it tells you anything about our love for this place, we basically bring all of our out-of-town friends here because the offerings are so unique.
I love it for three reasons.
One, they’re doing something different – the menu here looks very different from the menu at basically all of the other shops on this list. Instead of the standard cappuccino, cortado, latte lineup, they have a “cortadito” and “con leche.”
Two, the café de olla, which is a delicious combination of sweetness and spices like cinnamon and cloves. In this case, it’s a syrup you can add to your drink.
Last, but certainly not least, is the True Mexican Mocha, a mocha made with spices and hibiscus sprinkled on top. It’s magical.
In January 2020, we went to Mexico City for the second time, and I did a coffee masterclass with a local coffee shop owner and barista where I learned more about Mexican coffee, including why I didn’t see more of it in specialty coffee in the US.
What I learned is that it’s complicated, but it’s mostly that in the mid-2010’s, the Mexican coffee industry suffered from a fungal disease called “coffee rust” that decimated coffee production, and the industry is just beginning to return to pre-rust levels. You can learn more about that story here.
During that class, I got to taste a bunch of phenomenal Mexican coffees, including a natural process coffee from Oaxaca that I ended up buying multiple bags of to bring home and share with family and friends. My older brother, the elder coffee snob, claims it is among the best coffees he has ever tried.
La Perlita is owned by Angel Medina (of República fame, among an impressive array of other ventures), a Mexican-American who also owns Reforma Roasters (the coffee they serve), and works to highlight a selection of primarily Mexican coffees that come from a variety of different regions and have a wide range of flavor profiles.
He started roasting coffee in his apartment in 2017, selling it and donating the proceeds to benefit DACA recipients, then moved into operating coffee shops in Portland.
In 2019, he took a break to dive deeper into coffee, taking some time to visit coffee farms across Mexico before returning to Portland in March of 2020, which as you might recall was not a great time to be operating a coffee shop.
Still, he persisted, and a year later it is a hub not only for coffee lovers, but also for BIPOC-owned small food and drink businesses around Portland who host pop-ups in the same space.
If you’ve never tried coffee from Mexico before, this is the place to do it (aside from in Mexico, of course). T
hey roast each coffee to highlight its specific flavor profile and bring out what makes it special – I laughed at their description of their dark roasts: “though we retain complex notes of chocolate in our dark roasts instead of notes of ash and sadness like most.”
But you should get the “True Mexican Mocha.” You won’t regret it. A close second is a cortadito with café de olla.
It’s worth noting that they’re also involved in some of the other Portland coffee shops on this list, including
Push X Pull Coffee
If you’re looking for a coffee roaster in Portland that is pushing the envelope a little bit with the coffee they’re bringing to the table, this is probably your best bet. They focus on coffees that are processed in unique ways – think anaerobic, natural 72 hour fermentation, and other things of that nature.
For a coffee nerd, this is a great stop in Portland to try some new and interesting styles of coffee.
When you walk into the shop in the industrial Central Eastside, you’re immediately going to notice that they’ve really leaned into the industrial-chic vibe of the surrounding neighborhood (although the “chic” part is an addition when compared to the surroundings).
Exposed pipes on the ceiling, a deconstructed espresso machine with lots of stainless steel, concrete walls.
It’s basically the dictionary definition of “industrial chic.”
Off to the right, you’ll see the roaster they use to create their coffees, and if you’re lucky, the owner might actually be there roasting! The staff are super friendly and warm – I was standing in front of the wall of coffee trying to figure out exactly which beans I wanted to take home, and a man came over to help answer any questions I might have had.
I later found out that it was the owner, Christopher, and I appreciated his willingness to engage with people about the coffee!
Oh, and in case it wasn’t clear already, I think that the coffee is great. I go here fairly often. The milk in the cappuccino I had on my last visit was about as perfect as I’ve had recently, and they always have a rotating selection of both seasonal drinks (love their espresso tonic in the summer!) and coffees available as pour over.
Electrica Coffee and Tea
Located in the same airy, industrial-chic building as the Schoolhouse Electric showroom, Electrica Coffee and Tea is a new offering from the people behind La Perlita. It opened in December 2022, and quickly climbed the list of our favorite Portland coffee shops.
Why do we like it? Because it’s a place where both coffee lovers and tea lovers – which essentially describes Alysha and I – can both walk away satisfied.
In many cases, the tea offerings at a coffee shop are somewhere between lackluster and average. Which totally makes sense, because the baristas, owners, and everyone involved are usually focused on providing the best coffee they can. The reverse is true at dedicated tea shops, like Smith Tea in Portland.
At Electrica, the two owners – Angel Medina and Seiji Nanbu – have brought their expertise in coffee and tea together to create a place where both coffee lovers and tea lovers can find a cup of joy.
The menu is split between coffee offerings, which are similar to the menu at La Perlita, minus the True Mexican Mocha, and tea offerings.
I got a “con leche” (essentially a late) with their excellent café de olla syrup (which I discovered at La Perlita), and Alysha got a cold brewed sencha (which is a green tea). We chatted with one of the owners about that cold brew tea, and he explained that the cold brew process takes away some of the less pleasant “grassy” notes, and leaves you with a cup full of the more delicate flavors you’ll find in sencha.
I have to admit, as someone that doesn’t really enjoy green tea that much, I was into it. So was Alysha, who went back for seconds and tried the Hojicha latte too.
All around, a great experience if you’re into both coffee and tea, and want to try a little of both.
Address: 2181 NW Nicolai St. (Northwest)
Coava Coffee Roasters
Like Australia, Coava Coffee also played a pivotal role in my coffee journey. It was around the same time as that Australia trip that I first made it to Portland as an adult. At the time, the coffee scene in Portland was great, though not nearly as good as it is today, and Coava was the cream of the crop.
I had a natural process Ethiopian coffee at Coava (the coffee is called “Kilenso”) that was an absolute fruit bomb, and completely changed the way I thought about coffee. Until that point, I was in the “the darker the better” camp. After that, I was all aboard the “the lighter the roast, the better” express!
Coava has a few locations in Portland, but my favorite is the flagship. It opened in 2010 in the Central Eastside, and the interior of the shop reflects the industrial exteriors in the neighborhood. Think high-ceilings and concrete, with rustic wood accents throughout. They also share the space with a woodworking company, I think?
The menu here is simple – there’s a very limited selection of specialty drinks, led by their local honey latte – but what it lacks in creativity it makes up for with perfectly brewed espresso and filter coffee in its purest form.
When you walk up to the counter to order, you’ll notice that you have a few different coffee options to choose from – usually two espresso options, and two filter options. All filter coffees at the flagship location are prepared to order using what is basically a Chemex with a metal filter (to cut down on paper waste).
Barista is somewhere in between a coffee roaster and a coffee curator (you’re probably wondering what I’m talking about if you haven’t read the Adapt Cafe section above) because they both roast their own beans and work with other roasters, mostly from the Pacific Northwest.
They currently have four different locations in Portland, and I’ve been to three of them. Though the ambiance changes slightly from location to location, the fundamental offering is the same.
Here’s what you can expect. First, choose your drink. It’s mostly espresso-based drinks here (lattes, cappuccinos, espresso, etc.), though they also have signature drinks (like an Oregon hazelnut latte) and a few rotating specialty drinks too.
They give you a choice of three different coffees, usually one to two of their own, and one to two from other roasters. If you’re not nerdy enough to know which one you want, ask the barista for a recommendation!
Then the super talented baristas go to work making your drink, and then comes that sweet, sweet rush of caffeine hitting your bloodstream.
Tōv Coffee and Tea
This place is amazing, from the seating on top of the double decker red bus that looks like it came straight from London, to the unique flavor combinations you’ll find in the drinks on their seasonal menu.
This is easily Alysha’s favorite place on this list. She doesn’t do coffee, but loves tea. And Tōv has her covered on that front in addition to their coffee drinks.
The bus is located on Hawthorne Blvd at SE 32nd, and there are a few things you should know before you go.
One, seating is extremely limited, so you should either go early around opening, or be prepared to wait because sitting on the top deck of the bus is definitely an important piece of the experience, we think.
Two, it can be a little slow because it’s essentially a one (sometimes two) person show. Be patient and kind!
Three, the coffee here is roasted dark. That’s not a good or bad thing, but it’s something to keep in mind.
While they do have the usual range of coffee-based drinks, you should absolutely branch out and try something new here. We like the Egyptian coffee (similar to Turkish coffee – it’s only served “for here” at the bus), their Chocolate Jesus (chocolate milk and espresso, essentially), and basically all of their seasonal drinks.
Upper Left Roasters
Upper Left can be found at the northwest corner of the Ladd’s Addition neighborhood, which is one of our favorite places to wander on Portland’s Eastside. As I was standing there, I realized you can watch them roast coffee as you wait – the roaster is on the left side of the shop.
The space is minimalist – with plain white walls and huge windows that bring in tons of natural light. One of the things I appreciate here is that have plenty of options for all sorts of preferences, from single origin pour overs, to lattes, and a selection of teas for the non-coffee drinkers.
Their pour over and drip coffee options rotate throughout the year, and they always have a couple of espresso options on the bar if you’re looking for something a little more wild than their espresso blend.
They also have some cool signature drinks – like the sparkling iced matcha, which is something I’ve never seen before. The iced matcha is made with strawberry syrup, Topo Chico, and mint, and I’m about five minutes away from going back and trying it just to see what it tastes like.
Wallflower Coffee Roasters
For me, one of the signs of a good coffee shop is when I have a drink – usually a seasonal concoction – that immediately makes me want to try and replicate it at home. I had one of those experiences at Wallflower.
It was called the “Tom Selleck” and it was a delightful mixture of cold brew, tonic, mint, and citrus.
It was absolutely delicious, and is now a regular staple in my at-home coffee cocktail rotation.
Wallflower is a relatively new spot on Division that took over a space that was previously occupied by Dapper and Wise. The location is fantastic – it’s right in the middle of everything we love on Division – and they’ve done a great job designing the space, inside and out.
I listened to a podcast with one of the founders, Joël Flores, who talked about the journey. His dad was a coffee farmer in Honduras before they left to come to the United States, which is partially why he feels such a deep connection to coffee.
Their journey began with an Indiegogo campaign to help them raise startup costs, which can be a LOT, and it’s cool to see them integrating themselves into the community as they open up.
Address: 3158 SE Division Street
When I think about the OG coffee shops in Portland, my mind goes to four in particular. Stumptown, Coava, and Heart are at the top, followed closely by Albina Press. I’m not actually sure if that’s the absolutely correct timeline in terms of which places opened first, but you get the idea. They’ve been around for a while.
Albina Press has two locations in Portland, and I was ecstatic to find that one of them is just a few blocks away from our new house! It’s just a hair further north than the Prost! Marketplace on Mississippi Avenue. They also have a second location that we’ve passed by at the eastern end of Hawthorne at the foot of Mt. Tabor.
At the time I first visited, they were using Coava coffees, putting them firmly in the “monogamist” category (in the sense that they only work with one roaster). The menu isn’t particularly special, but I do really like that their drip coffee is made with a French Press and then put into a batch brew container to save for later.
The space on Albina Avenue in Northeast Portland is warm and inviting, with dark wood, light walls, and plenty of natural light. The outdoor seating gets great light on summer mornings, and the interior is cozy on wet winter afternoons.
Address: 4637 N Albina Avenue (Mississippi-ish), 5012 SE Hawthorne Boulevard (Hawthorne)
Ardent Coffee is down near Reed College in southeast Portland, and they’re doing things a little differently than most of the cafes on this list. They’re a nonprofit with proceeds going to support International Justice Mission to end modern slavery.
They’re also volunteer-based, so those baristas behind the bar are there as volunteers.
They work with Sweet Bloom Coffee Roasters out of Denver, which I’ve only seen a few times in the Pacific Northwest, but are one of my favorite roasters in the country.
The menu is fairly simple, and is donation-based (though they have suggestions to help you figure out what amount makes sense to donate). The best part, at least in my experience, is chatting with the baristas and watching the on-the-job training that the less experienced baristas are getting from the veterans (which inadvertently helps my home brewing as I’m starting to get into espresso at home).
Overall, it’s a little bit out of the way for tourists in Portland, but if you’re looking for a solid cup of coffee that supports a good cause, I’d highly recommend a trip out here.
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