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Becoming A Coffee Connoisseur In Portland – A Roundup Of The Best Coffee

by Meg · 25 comments

Best Coffee Portland


July 26th marked our first day as Portland residents – and since then it has been a whirlwind to say the least!

Prior to moving here, we heard so many great things from friends and family about the city… the food, the outdoors, the people, etc. But one common theme we kept hearing about was the incredible coffee scene.

Well, what do I care about coffee for?

Sure, coffee is yummy and all, but I’ll admit that a cup of Starbucks is all I need to perk me up in the morning… That’s right people, Starbucks.

Now, Starbucks in any other city is a delightful place to start your day. Who doesn’t love their name scribed on their coffee cup (albeit sometimes spelled horribly wrong) or the decorations and snowflake red cups during the holidays?

Best Coffee - Starbucks


Well, it seems like Starbucks is a name to be shunned in Portland.

Going into our move here, I almost was intimidated to try coffee in our new city. Would the barista at the counter see right through me as I fumble my way through ordering a cold pressed Coava?

Would the person in line behind me laugh at my request to have nonfat milk in my cappuccino?

…These are scenarios (and first world problems) that haunted me in our first few days.

And in those first few days, Tony and I also didn’t have any internet connection in our new apartment, so we just HAD to rely on local coffee shops with WiFi for survival. And while there were a few instances where we did hit-up our local Starbucks (clad in baseball hats and sunglasses of course), we decided to be brave and checkout the local coffee scene.

After a few days of heavy research (and one giant caffeine buzz), I have become quite the coffee fan. While I still hold Starbucks near to my heart, I’m starting to understand (and appreciate) the genuine craftsmanship that goes behind making coffee at some of Portland’s best coffee shops.

I know we still have plenty of places to explore, but here are some of our early favorites:


Best Coffee Portland - Barista


We came here with our two friends, Bethany and Ted, along with their baby girl, Lucie. We loved it so much that we brought my family back here two weeks later. Barista doesn’t brew their own creations, but they instead use their space to feature amazing local & global roasters. They have a few locations, but Barista on 23rd has great seating options for largergroups and families (booths too!). For your order, make it a Mocha. I’m a chocolate obsessed gal and this drink (made with 61% bittersweet Valrhona chocolate) almost brought me to tears.

Coffeehouse Northwest

Best Coffee Portland - Coffeehouse Northwest


Part of the Sterling Coffee Roasters family, this cafe is a stone’s throw from our apartment – But that’s not the only reason why we love it. They have excellent coffee, great wi-fi, and with every cup o’ joe, you get a free refill of one of their house coffee… Yes, you read that right. I have had their iced coffee numerous times and have never been disappointed!


Best Coffee Portland - Nuvrei


Yummy coffee, drool-inducing French pastries, and scrumptious made-to-order artisan bagel sandwiches… Need I say more? Tony and I visited Nuvrei after a long run along the river and their Fried Egg sandwich with a side of their house coffee was perfection!

Stumptown Coffee Roasters

Stumptown is iconic to Portland and for all the right reasons… it’s damn good coffee! My advice: Order a Latte to-go at the Stumptown on SW Stark St. and head across the street to Powell’s City of Books for a relaxing stroll through the bookstore (with a coffee in hand)!

Caffè Umbria

I mainly love Cafe Umbria because they have an outstanding working space, which was perfect when Tony and I needed a place to fire up our laptops and crank on work. Their wi-fi is fast, they have plenty of seating, their coffee is top notch… THEY. HAVE. GELATO.

Best Coffee Portland - Pretty Coffee


Now on to you: Do you live in Portland (or know of the coffee scene here)? What are some of the “must sip” places for us to check out? Please shoot us a note in the Comments below!


About Meg
Exhausted from traveling every week as a Business Management Consultant early in my career, I took a year off in 2012 to travel at my own pace. I am a high-energy girl that loves being active, eating food, drinking wine, and exploring the world with my partner-in-crime (and husband), Tony! I now reside in Portland, Oregon and continue to write about travel, food, wine, and the awesome adventures we have in the Pacific NW!

magz August 11, 2014 at 10:46 pm

ooooh I SO need this buzz tour when I come visit please!!

Meg August 12, 2014 at 9:10 pm

I’m already crafting a coffee tour for your arrival!

Peter Korchnak @ Where Is Your Toothbrush? August 11, 2014 at 11:43 pm

I like Crema at SE 28th and Ankeny – large space, some outdoor tables, fast wifi, close to my house. But there are so many coffee shops serving excellent coffee, if with a bit of a Portland attitude…

Meg August 12, 2014 at 9:09 pm

I haven’t heard of Crema, but we will definitely have to check it out… and we will have to meet up when we are in your neighborhood! Thanks for the tip Peter :-)

Tina August 12, 2014 at 9:02 am

Great post! We are on a coffee snob kick right now (or trying. We realized that we just love good diner coffee the best . . . even better than a Chemex pour over ?) Can’t wait for a tour when we get out there! Stephen’s been looking for Portland flights already!

Meg August 12, 2014 at 9:07 pm

haha You can’t beat bottomless diner coffee… There, I said it. Can’t wait for you guys to come visit!

Derek August 12, 2014 at 3:06 pm

My go to place in PDX for a cup of joe while living there was always Coffee Time on NW 21st. Maybe its not the most amazing coffee in the world but it sure beats Starbucks, it costs way less, and I was conveniently living right across the way. PLUS, they have these really comfy couches tucked in a dimly lit corner that mold perfectly to anyone’s body.

Meg August 12, 2014 at 9:06 pm

Thanks for the awesome rec Derek! I’m in need of a cheaper coffee place to be my regular stop – I’m going to go broke at all the other places! And a couch that fits anyone’s body??? I’m there! :-)

Lindsey K. August 12, 2014 at 3:31 pm

OMG – I LOVE Nuvrei! One of the first places we tried on our Portland “scouting” trip before we moved here. The macarons are amazing, and you will die of happiness if you can catch a hot chocolate croissant straight from the bakery ovens downstairs (warning: they are cash only down there!). I haven’t tried their coffee though, so I will make sure I do the next time I’m there :)

Meg August 12, 2014 at 9:04 pm

Woah wait a sec… you can buy directly from their downstairs bakery?! I didn’t even know they had a bakery downstairs! I absolutely adore chocolate croissants, so you just made my day! do you happen to know when they typically come out of the ovens? 😉

Catherine August 12, 2014 at 6:26 pm

My gosh, you must have had quite the buzz after all that very serious testing!

Meg August 12, 2014 at 9:02 pm

haha all the “research” was spread out over a few days! Although, I think I tried like 4 coffee drinks at once at Barista…. It wasn’t my finest moment.

kelsey August 12, 2014 at 6:49 pm

love this! adore nuvrei!

Meg August 12, 2014 at 9:00 pm

Thanks Kelsey – Nuvreis is incredible… and I haven’t even tried their pastries yet!

beckydancer August 12, 2014 at 7:41 pm

You will be a full convert in no time! I love Public Domain myself. :)

Meg August 12, 2014 at 8:59 pm

Oh I don’t doubt it! I have never been to Public Domain – Thanks for the tip! I will be sure to check it out.

Create/Enjoy August 12, 2014 at 11:43 pm

Yup, Starbucks is a no-no here. In terms of really high quality coffee, I recommend Happy Cup!!

Meg August 13, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Thanks for sharing! I haven’t heard of Happy Cup but will have to check it out!

Alexandra August 13, 2014 at 2:50 am

I had the smallest most expensive cup of coffee in my life in Portland. At Heart. It was tasty but at $4 for a dentist spit cup sized latte they can keep it. The coffee in SF is cheaper and better. I would have never imagined.

Meg August 13, 2014 at 12:02 pm

haha yeah it is pretty expensive here… but rent is a 1/3 of the price here than in SF so it all balances out, right??!

Susan@LunaCafe August 13, 2014 at 11:41 am

Wow, you hit some of the best and in such a short time. I love Nuvrei, Barista, Crema, and Coffeehouse Northwest. You might also like Christopher David (NW 10th), Sterling (NW 21st), St. Honore (Thurman), and Pearl Bakery (NW 9th).

Meg August 13, 2014 at 12:04 pm

Thanks Susan! I also heard numerous recommendations for Crema. Sterling must be amazing since I love Coffeehouse Northwest. I haven’t heard of St. Honore or Pearl Bakery but will have to add them to the list – There’s so much we still need to eat/drink in Portland… I can’t wait!

Melinda August 13, 2014 at 2:59 pm

I don’t drink coffee…but I’ve found that the best coffee houses usually have great non-coffee drinks as well. I’ll be checking out some of the places on your list!

Meg August 13, 2014 at 8:36 pm

Thanks Melinda! I hear they have some great tea shops in Portland too! I also am a big kombucha drinker as well… and there’s always hot chocolate!

Geoff (Steep Stories) September 9, 2014 at 12:34 am

Great list. I’m not much a coffee drinker, but I know the good ones when I see ’em.

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