wanderlust wednesday :: a coffee shop tour of portland

As promised, a coffee themed wanderlust post.

Being in Portland for a coffee convention filled that little city to the brim with coffee crazies like myself.  Being there with people from my coffee job at Greyhouse meant that we were all up for checking out as many coffee shops as we could.  We went to more than a handful and still missed out on some.  But, I think we hit most of the really really great ones.  Total caffeine overdose.

The great thing about specialty coffee in Portland is that the people that work in coffee are very friendly and excited about sharing their passion.  Some other specialty coffee places (ahem, Intelligentsia and Mad Cap) have a stigma of not being very nice or understanding of customers.  (Don’t get me wrong, I still think that these places make fantastic coffee but I just wasn’t so impressed with how I was treated as a customer).  Anyways, Portland coffee people are just great.


This coffee shop is classic Portland.  It’s what most people think of when you say Portland and specialty coffee in the same sentence.  It definitely lives up to it’s name.  I traveled to Portland for the first time in 2009 and had the best macchiato in my life (now it’s too hard to say what has been the best up to this point).  I’m impressed that they keep their super high quality despite having 8 shops (only one of which is outside Portland, in Manhattan), which is quite a few for a specialty coffee shop.

One thing that they do that I have never seen anywhere else is have cold brewed coffee on tap.  Yes, you read that right, iced coffee on tap, 3 different kinds to choose from.  It was just one of the most revolutionary things ever (maybe that was a slight exaggeration).

Plus, their coffee packaging is so great and simple.

Personally, I’ve only been to the ‘downtown’ location on 3rd Ave and the Manhattan one, but their quality remains consistent and amazing. (Multiple locations in Portland and one in Manhattan, NYC)


What makes Barista a little different than most of the shops in Portland is that they don’t roast their own coffee.  But, what they get to do is feature their favorites from roasters all over Portland and the country.  I really liked the building that their shop was in.  It was a huge brick building in the Pearl district and it had a really open and airy feeling with lots of natural light.  There wasn’t a whole lot of seating but it still felt comfortable.  I really liked their bar setup too with wooden box shelves above displaying merchandise and the like.  Definitely a must see for Portland coffee. (Pearl District)


This is in the running for my favorite shop of Portland.  I don’t exactly know what it is about it, but I just really liked the feel of it as soon as I walked in.  You can tell these people are really passionate about coffee and eager to share it with their customers.  Their shop is simple and classy and open and flows really nicely. The roaster is right in front of the customers with bar seating around it. A lot of thought and time went into this shop and you can tell.  Not to mention that it was probably my favorite coffee that I had the entire time I was there. (Northeast Portland, Burnside)


Coava Coffee

Coava Coffee shares their space with a woodworking shop.  It looks like a warehouse.  It’s in the industrial district of Portland.  The tables are old machinery.  All these things add up to something very special and unique.  Everything is very simple and clean.  I love a simple shop.  It keeps things focused on what we are all really there for: coffee.  They roast themselves and do all brewed coffee by Chemex pourover.  It’s just simply some really great coffee. (Industrial District, Southeast Portland)

Public Domain

This shop was probably the “least specialty” out of all the places we visited, at least to me.  It’s in downtown Portland and just has a more business-crowd feel because of that.  They still make a decent cup of coffee and the baristas are really friendly.  It’s just not a place that I would frequent everyday.  Nothing about it sticks out to me.  And in Portland, if you are doing specialty coffee, you just have to stick out or you will get lost among the hundreds. (Downtown)


Portland, you have not disappointed your coffee filled reputation.  It was really great to be able to visit so many shops and have some really excellent coffee.  I’ll come back soon, I promise.

4 thoughts on “wanderlust wednesday :: a coffee shop tour of portland

  1. Very inspiring post! And yes, I do agree with how service was as Intelligentsia. I try t travel to different states just to try different types of coffee and when I arrived in LA for Intelligentsia and LaMill I was a little disappointed – but they’re stuff was as good as people have been saying. Anyway, I love your blog and your profession is an inspiration.

    – Celestine.

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