Last Updated on June 13, 2021 by smiling-coffee-snob
Portland, Oregon is much smaller than Seattle (another great coffee city) but has a coffee scene that’s just as good. If it’s your first time, these five Portland coffee shops will give you a taste of the local coffee culture without leaving you overwhelmed.
Think of them as a starting point. As you explore more of the city and try different coffee shops, you’ll have something to compare them to. I’ve listed the coffee shops in the order I think you should try them, but it’s just a suggestion.
What makes Portland coffee shops so great?
A lot of people think of Portland as the ultimate hipster city, especially because of the show Portlandia… While there’s some truth to that stereotype, Portland is really just a city where you can do your own thing, no matter how odd it might be considered other places.
This individuality is what makes the coffee scene so great. You’ll find top notch coffee shops, like in many other cities, but in Portland there’s going to be a unique twist to each one.
Coava is one of Portland’s older specialty roasters that also created their own brewing filter that fits in a Chemex. The metal filter gives their pour overs a lot more body, similar to a french press. If you’re not really into filter coffee, they also offer great espresso drinks.
Beyond the coffee, the flagship store is an awesome place to visit. It’s inside of a bamboo furniture maker and has a huge, open design with an industrial vibe to it.
I recommend Coava first because they keep things pretty simple. High-quality beans and basic preparation to bring out the unique characteristics of each.
1300 SE Grand Ave. A, Portland OR
Another one of Portland’s older, quality focused coffee roasters with a few different locations around the city is Heart. The quality level is similar to Coava, so if you’re looking for top notch beans, neither will disappoint you.
I recommend trying a pour over or whatever single-origin espresso they are offering at the time.
537 SW 12th Ave., Portland OR
Sterling is another specialty coffee roaster that stands out not just for the coffee, but also for the atmosphere. They really excel at espresso based drinks and have killer pastries.
They’ve recently upgraded to a new location since I was last there, but it looks great. I stumbled upon this article about the story behind the cafe and how they’ve stood out for their level of service.
518 NW 21st Ave., Portland OR
A big red double-Decker bus was transformed into a coffee shop called Tōv. Step inside and you’ll find a friendly barista behind the bar and up top is a seating area.
There are all the usual espresso drinks, but, if you’re up for a strong drink, go for the Egyptian coffee (the owner is from Egypt). It’s the same as Turkish coffee and it’s rare to find someplace that serves it well. Finely ground coffee is brewed in a small pot and served on a small tray with a dish of sweets to eat along with it.
Tōv will give you a chance to experience more of what really makes Portland unique as a city. The creative blend of coffee atmosphere fits in perfectly, but wouldn’t work anywhere else.
SE 32nd and Hawthorn Blvd., Portland OR
This small shop has a killer music setup and offers a number of pour over options to go with their espresso based drinks. They prepare coffee with a metal filter over a mason jar and the place has an all-around good vibe to it.
It’s also right around the corner from Powell’s books, which you should definitely visit at least once. It’s the perfect coffee stop afterward.
923 SW Oak, Portland OR
Don’t underestimate the coffee
This just scratches the surface of the Portland coffee scene. You could probably spend months trying to go everywhere, but if you can at least try these five places you’ll have a grasp of how great Portland’s coffee is.