Cool Cafes of Portland – West Coast Spring Roadtrip

While staying over 2 nights in Portland, I made it a point to check out some of the coffee scene in the city. The popularity of Starbucks has brought coffee to the masses, and Portland is now home to a burgeoning number of independent coffee roasters. One of the most famous coffee roaster Stumptown, which is famous for their cold brew has their origins from Oregon.

Stumptown Coffee Roasters

This coffee roaster sells their intense cold brew coffee in supermarkets, and operates numerous branches around Portland with one being in the similarly famous Ace Hotel in downtown Portland. There is a larger branch in SE Division close to all the other eateries that we were visiting as well, and that was the other one we visited.

Stumptown Window
Stump town window front

I am not a big fan of their cold brewed coffee which I found to be too harsh and intense. I prefer my coffee to be balanced and smooth, and in Portland, they apparently sell the cold brew with milk in small packets that was quite good. That was what my friend ordered while I had a cup of brewed coffee. I am actually neutral towards their coffee, so while it was good, I still did not like their roast profile as I find it slightly too intense.

Cold-brewed Coffee with Milk
Cold-brewed coffee with milk

The interior of their cafe in SE Division is pretty large with the Probat roasting machine shown prominently beside the ordering counter. There was also free postcards for guests and lots of seating space. On top of that, there is a small free parking lot for guests that makes it even more convenient.

Stumptown Coffee Roaster
Inside Stumptown coffee roaster

Heart Coffee Roasters

The other cafe we visited was Heart Coffee Roasters which have 2 stores in Portland, one in East Burnside and another in downtown. The one in East Burnside feels much more spacious and is my favourite cafe to visit. I especially liked the table around the Probate roaster that they have inside the store.

Have a Heart
Have a cup of Heart

On this visit, my friend ordered a latte while I had a good cup of classic brewed coffee, American style. As far as coffee goes, I really liked the texture of Heart coffee the best. It was smooth and balanced, without being too bland or acidic. In fact we visited the downtown branch the next day to get some packed coffee.

Heart Coffee Roaster
Inside Heart coffee roaster

Case Study Coffee

Coffee in Bags and Pastries
Coffee and pastries in Case Study

The last cafe we tried out was Case Study, which also have a couple of branches around Portland, and one in downtown. The downtown cafe is quite crowded while their branch that we visited in NE Sandy is somewhat out of the way for the occasional tourist. Inside the cafe is furnished in a classic style and the one coffee that stood out was their toasted hazelnut latte. Unlike many coffee shops that uses a hazelnut syrup, this cafe uses a hazelnut puree thus you get some of the hazelnut bits at the end after finishing your coffee.

At Case Study
At Case Study coffee roaster

In fact their toasted hazelnut latte became my favourite coffee drink that I purchased it again before leaving Portland. I also got a pack of their special ‘Deviation Blend’ coffee to bring home. This particular blend has a slightly acidic profile but the texture was just right and I actually liked the coffee as well.

Case Study Toasted Hazelnut Latte
Case Study toasted Hazelnut latte

After sampling just 3 of the numerous independent coffee roasters in Portland, I was also able to explore the various neighbourhoods in the city. The growth of these specialty coffee certainly made for a much more prominent coffee culture than the average Tim Horton’s or Starbucks experience. They also bring out the various roasting profile and the creative possibilities of a simple coffee beverage!


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