Portcullis Emblem


The Third-Wave Coffee Tour of Portland, Oregon

Travel - Guides

Coffee Plant at Water Avenue

Portland is filled with charming little cafés ripped from the pages of Kinfolk. They all serve amazing single-origin coffees, often as on-demand pour-overs. However, if you search online for cafés in Portland, it's not easy to discern the interesting ones from the random Styrofoam-cup-and-Green-Mountain operations. So I collect here my always-expanding list of worthwhile spots in this capital of excellent hipster coffee.

Water Avenue Coffee Company

1028 SE Water Ave #145

Water Avenue Coffee Window

Purely in terms of the curation of the coffee itself, this is surely my favorite roaster in Portland. I often order whole bean bags to be shipped to me here in Cambridge from Water Avenue rather than get beans from our rather less inspired Massachusetts local roasters. I have particularly enjoyed their Oak-aged Sumatra and their various Ethiopian roasts.

Water Avenue Coffee Whole Bean Coffee Bags

The pastries here are also particularly excellent.

Water Avenue Coffee Cup
These cool mugs are called Lino and are made by Not Neutral.

Coava Coffee Roasters

1300 SE Grand Ave.

This quirky venue roasts coffee that makes it frequently as a guest roaster at one of my favorite cafés in Cambridge (Crema). Apparently they share the space with some kind of surfboard atelier, which accounts for the unusual tables.

Coava Coffee water table Coava Coffee surfboard table Coava Coffee counter

Clive Coffee

79 SE Taylor St

Purveyor of coffee-making implements, with a particular emphasis on home espresso and visual aesthetics. The owner Mark Hellweg is quite friendly and knowledgeable—definitely worth tracking him down for a chat if he's in the store while you're there.

Clive Coffee sign Clive Coffee cups Clive Cofee product table

Stumptown Coffee Roasters (at the Ace Hotel)

1026 SW Stark

This is one of the firms to have started the whole Third Wave Coffee movement, as it were. Stumptown is probably considered somewhat unfashionable now that it has become so mainstream, but don't let that stop you. The baristas here are also especially chatty and friendly, which was a pleasant surprise (I was expecting haughty pretense, which is closer to what I encountered at the one in Manhattan.) I love the design of the interior space—and the lobby it shares with the lovely Ace Hotel.

Stumptown Coffee at the Ace Hotel Window Stumptown at the Ace Hotel Interior Stumptown at the Ace Hotel Chemeces

Coffeehouse Northwest (Sterling Coffee Roasters)

1951 W Burnside

This slightly more ramshackle café has top-notch roasts, and it makes for an excellent way point on the pilgrimage up to the numinous Portland Japanese Garden.

Northwest Coffee Front Door Northwest Coffee Cup with Flowers Northwest Coffee Chandelier

Barista - Pearl District

539 NW 13th Avenue

This small café with guest roasters and elite baristas has seating flowing into the common hallway of the building that hosts it. Be sure to stop by the enormous Asian curiosities store Cargo across the street after you have been appropriately caffeinated.

Barista Pearl District Window Barista Pearl District Cup

Barista - Downtown

529 SW 3rd Ave

This tiny shop has a lovely interior and super friendly baristas who know their stuff.

Barista Downtown Floor Barista Downtown Coffee Cup

Voodoo Doughnut

22 SW 3rd Avenue

Not per se a café, I'll concede, but a fine accompaniment to a cup of coffee. Be sure to try the blueberry cake variety. Cash only, open 24/7.

Voodoo Doughnut Sign Voodoo Doughnut Racks

Courier Coffee

923 SW Oak

This place is just down the street from Powell's, but the farcical brevity of its hours has precluded me from ever visiting. Hopefully next time; I'll report back.

Courier Coffee closed Courier Coffee sign

World Cup Roasters

1005 W Burnside

The coffee isn't particularly good or interesting, but it's in Powell's, which is a major compensation. (Note the comprehensive taxonomy of Star Trek fiction and scholarship.)

Be also sure to check out Powell's Building #2, which houses a stultifying array of technical and other nerd-centric texts.

Oui Presse

1740 SE Hawthorne Blvd

This francophillic café endearingly calls its machiatti noisettes, which is the only time I've heard them called that outside of France. They also stock a wide array of hipster aesthete magazines.

Oui Presse Sign Oui Presse Noisette

Apparently, ice cream is also on offer.

Heart Roasters

2211 E Burnside

This is one of the swankier cafés in town. I love the way they ostentatiously serve their pour-overs in Chemeces (lulz).

Heart Roasters Chemex Heart Roasters machine

Oh, and that mint-green custom powder-coated Marzocco!

Heart Roasters Marzocco machine

Ristretto Roasters

2181 NW Nicolai

This tiny café is located in the entryway to the awesome Schoolhouse Electric factory. Being hot and sweaty after having to huff my way to their far-flung location by bike, I enjoyed an excellent cold brew here.