In Portland, coffee is the new wine, baristas are akin to rock stars and only the most tricked-out espresso machines are trusted with unique house roasts. With breakout local successes like Stumptown Coffee Roasters, which now boasts satellites in Brooklyn and Seattle as well as a burgeoning line of bottled cold brews, the city seems poised to take over (or at least overcaffeinate) the nation.
In the meantime, visitors will find Portland’s bean scene is as accessible as it is diverse. In fact, you don’t have to leave downtown to sample some of the best cups. Here’s a short list that’s bound to get you buzzing.
Courier Coffee Roasters
Owner Joel Domreis starts most days with a 4 a.m. roasting session, cooking up to 100 pounds of fresh green beans before switching to baking duty in his minimalist storefront at Courier Coffee Roasters. Behind the bar made of locally sourced walnut, cold brews steep for 24 hours and light- and medium-bodied single-origin varieties are filtered through 23-karat-gold-plated cones. Domreis’ cannelés also have a dedicated following.
Andrea Spella’s closet-size Spella Café near Pioneer Courthouse Square showcases the Italian-American’s love for palate-engaging blended roasts and a fondness for rare bean varietals imported from Brazil and India. Order a traditional cappuccino and look for bags of tiny, handpicked peaberry beans from Karnataka, India, to savor back home.
Coffee fanatics are encouraged to conduct their own tastings during the $2 espresso happy hour at Public Domain (11 a.m.-noon Mon. – Fri.; includes a complimentary, palate-cleansing Pellegrino shot). Or pick from one of many house-roasted single-origin varietals at the expansive pour-over bar. Whatever you sip, don’t forget to ogle the $20k, handmade Slayer espresso machine.
Run by a three-time winner of the Northwest Barista Competition, Billy Wilson, Barista coffee shops feature beans from some of the best roasters in the country, like San Francisco-based Sightglass. Wilson selects robust espressos, and the AeroPress brewing method employed here delivers cups with lots of body. Barista also has locations in the Pearl District and on Northeast Alberta Street.
Stumptown Coffee Roasters
Portland’s most famous coffee export has four beautiful, bustling locations around the city, with two right downtown, at the Ace Hotel and on Third Avenue. More than a dozen locally roasted single-origin and blended roasts — including the company’s most popular, the aptly named Hairbender — line the shelves. Grab a bag of whole beans or sample a select few via single-cup pour-overs from the bar.