Portland, Oregon is the best coffee city in the country. You heard me, Seattle. Want to make something of it, San Francisco? Sorry, New York, you’re not even a contender. It’s not just because it’s the hometown of super influential third wave pioneer Stumptown; Portland has over 40 coffee roasters within the city limits alone, the vast majority of which are dedicated to producing meticulously sourced, small-batch, artisanal coffee. It’s also home to champion baristas (yes coffee-making is a sport, and unlike basketball and soccer, it’s one Portland is actually good at), three national coffee magazines (Fresh Cup, Barista Magazine, Roast Magazine), the hottest coffee gear inventor (Able Brewing), and one of the best coffee equipment stores (Clive Coffee) in the country. Food lovers already make pilgrimages to the City of Roses to gorge on the abundance of heavily-hopped craft beer and mossy farm-to-table fare. But they should also be charting a course around the city’s top caffeine slingers. We’ve taken the cartographical heavy lifting off your hands by listing 10 of the best. Bonus: you can get to all of them, in one day, by bike. Ride there in the rain! It is the Portland way.
Address: 100 SE Salmon St (503-467-4123, stumptowncoffee.com) Go for: A free education from the best in the business. Some militant locavores have turned up their noses at Portland’s iconic coffee empire since it colonized New York and Seattle (mostly New York), but don’t be dissuaded by their parochialism. Stumptown is still worthy of its legend, still one of the finest roasters in the country, and no Portland coffee crawl would be complete without a shot of Hairbender pulled by a scruffy kid in a Red Fang t-shirt. Each of the roaster’s four cafes has its own flavor (the downtown location blasts heavy metal at office workers, while the O.G. Division Street outlet is more of a neighborhood hangout for hippy moms and the underemployed), but if you really want to experience Stumptown at its best, skip the cafes altogether and hit the company headquarters, which hosts free public cuppings at 3pm Friday–Monday. There you’ll sample some of their more interesting beans and learn a ton from one of the company’s top baristas, all for zero dollars.
Courier CoffeeAddress: 923 SW Oak St. (503-545-6444, couriercoffeeroasters.com) Go for: Bike repair advice and some of the freshest beans in the city The most Portland coffee shop in all of Portland. It’s a big call, but nowhere better embodies the city’s scrappy DIY spirit and extreme environmentalism than these guys. The roaster does all of its business and deliveries by bicycle, serves its drinks in mason jars, hand stamps and letters every one of its labels and menus, only plays vinyl on the stereo, makes its own vegan granola bars, and owner/roaster/permanent-cafe-fixture Joel Domreis can write you a short novel on every one of his single-origin beans—from the name of the family that grew it to the ways its flavors have changed in the days since roasting. Located a block from the city’s heartbeat Powell’s Books, the tiny West End cafe has also become something of an unofficial visitor center. Pull up a bar stool at the big walnut counter and baristas and customers alike will happily drop local knowledge on the best places to eat, drink, and hike. They’ll probably draw you a bike route to get there, too.
HeartAddress: 2211 E Burnside St (503-206-6602, heartroasters.com) Go for: The live DJs and Scandinavian-style roasts. You either love it or you hate it. With its science lab aesthetic, incredibly light roasts, intimidatingly attractive clientele and reputation for aloof service, Heart is probably the most divisive Portland coffee shop after Hot Bikini Brew. It certainly seems to inspire both the most devout followers and loudest complainers of any roaster in the city. What’s not up for debate is that Finnish former pro-snowboarder-turned-coffee-entrepreneur Wille Yli-Luoma makes fantastic coffee and his stark black and white cafe stands out in a town of log cabin inspired design (even if neither is to everyone’s taste). There always seems to be a number of obscure brewers on the shelves, and true to its Scandinavian roots, Heart is a big proponent of the Aeropress—a nerdy plastic brewer that looks like a medical device but makes a super clean cup and is an excellent way to sample those bright, fruity roasts.If you need a great theme for a coffee shop, check out these 10+ of the Very Best WordPress Coffee Shop Themes.