Portland Roasting is the final Coffee Spot from my mammoth coast-to-coast trip across the USA last year. It was one of six Portland coffee shop/roasters that I visited, but the only one where the roastery was actually on the same site as the coffee shop (known as the Cupping Room Cafe). Portland Roasting is a well-established name in Portland, having been around for 20 years now. It occupies a relatively large two storey building on the corner of 7th Avenue and Oak Street just east of the Willamette River, opposite the city centre. The building houses not just the roaster and its two drum roasters, but it also provides a home to the company’s administration and marketing departments and the delightful Cupping Room Cafe.
Set in an area that is predominantly offices and workshops, it’s not somewhere you would naturally find yourself strolling through. However, Portland Roasting and The Cupping Room is worth making a short detour to visit. With two options on espresso, another on bulk-brew and two more single-origin pour-overs, the coffee alone is worth the trip. On top of that, if you get your timing right, there are roastery tours and public cuppings (Monday/Wednesday/Friday, 10:00 & 14:00).
Coava Coffee Roasters, on Hawthorne Boulevard, is another of Portland’s many coffee shop/roaster mini-chains. Coava’s a chain of two, with the roastery (combined with another coffee shop) being about 20 blocks away in the direction of the city centre. This branch is another shared space, in this case, the lobby of Hawthorne Twenty Six, a modern residential building on Hawthorne Boulevard, between 26th and 27th Avenues. It’s a beautiful space, split across two levels, with high ceilings and generous, south-facing windows.
Coava specialises in roasting single-origins (no blends here!) and forging strong links with individual farmers. Pictures of some of the coffee farms that Coava works with adorn the walls at Hawthorne. Typically, Coava roasts up to eight single-origins at any given time. Of these, two are available as espresso (along with decaf), while a third is on bulk-brew. If you don’t like what’s on offer, just wait a day or two and it will change, although this is quite pedestrian compared to the main shop/roastery, where the coffee can change several times a day! Talking to the baristas about this, they admitted it could be quite stressful trying to constantly dial new coffee in when it was busy!
I had two full days in Portland on last year’s coast-to-coast trip; naturally, I spent them visiting coffee shops. The first was Five Points Coffee Roasters on Division Street, in suburban eastern Portland. It was a pleasant stroll from my motel, down leafy, residential streets, so I headed over for breakfast.
First, let’s clear up the issue around the name. Five Points started off life as Coffee Division six years ago, when it was acquired by the current owner, Chris. Initially Coffee Division used Stumptown, but four years ago, Chris started roasting on nearby Powell and 21st, using the name Five Points Coffee Roasters. By the time I arrived almost exactly a year ago, Five Points was in the middle of moving to have both coffee shop and roaster under the single brand
Five Points offers its house-blend on espresso, plus decaf, although by the time you read this, there should also be a single-origin on the third grinder. However, where Five Points really scores is on its filter coffee. There are four single-origins available as an individual hand-pour Chemex and, eschewing the normal batch-brew, Five Points makes up two Chemex at a time using its filter of the day.
Case Study Coffee Roasters is the first coffee shop I visited in Portland. Located in the heart of downtown, on the intersection of SW 10th Avenue/Yamhill Street, it is one three branches of this local chain, which roasts all its own coffee in a separate roastery.
The downtown branch is glorious. Rectangular in shape, there’s an amazing, copper-topped island counter and floor-to-ceiling windows on both sides, the natural light supplemented by multiple, interesting light-fittings for the odd gloomy day. The seating follows the windows, with the trees lining the streets providing plenty of shade, plus you can sit at the counter, or right at the back whether there are four more tables. The right-hand wall is taken up by a large set of retail shelves.
The focus, of course, is firmly on the coffee, all roasted in-house. There is a choice of the house-blend on espresso, joined by a single-origin and decaf. For filter, there’s the obligatory bulk brew, plus a choice of four single-origins through the Kalita Wave filter, which you can watch being made. Finally, Case Study has cold brew, made on the counter using some impressive kit that could have come straight out of a chemistry lab.
Heart Coffee Roasters is one of many coffee shops/roasters based in Portland, Oregon, but, after Stumptown, it’s probably the one that the most people on this side of the Atlantic have heard of. It was certainly very high on my list during my brief visit to Portland as part of my coast-to-coast trip last June, so I thought it was about time it featured on the Coffee Spot.
There are two Heart coffee shops in Portland, one on the west side, and this, on the east side, on East Burnside, right in the middle of the vast grid of residential streets on the eastern bank of the Willamette River. As well as being a coffee shop, this was also where, for many years, all of Heart’s coffee was roasted. However, the old Probat roaster was retired shortly before my visit due to Heart moving its growing roasting operation to a dedicated facility nearby.
The result, when I was there, 11 months ago, was a coffee shop in flux, so there may well have been more changes since my visit. However, what I found was a delightful, spacious, sunny spot, serving some excellent coffee, amongst the best of my entire trip.
Since I’ve been starting my mornings with Extracto’s Eleven of Spades espresso blend, I thought I ought to write up my Coffee Spot on Extracto’s Prescott branch, which was the final stop on my second (and final) day in Portland, Oregon. Extracto is a chain of exactly two, the Prescott branch and the roastery/coffeehouse on Killingsworth, both of which are north of Portland city centre.
Ideally I’d have visited the roastery first, but it’s another 30 minutes further out from the city centre and I’d already done a lot of travelling between coffee shops that day, having started down to the south at Either/Or earlier that morning. Instead, I settled for the closer branch in Prescott village, where Prescott Street meets 15th Avenue in northeast Portland.
Set at the back of a courtyard, a little way off the busy Prescott Street, Extracto is a great little place. All the coffee is roasted over in Killingsworth. There’s a choice of the Eleven of Spades house-blend, a single-origin or decaf on espresso, while on pour-over there were four different beans on offer during my visit. A more extensive range of beans are on sale on a table by the counter.
Welcome to the third and final instalment of Brian’s Travel Spot, following my three week adventure across the United States. The first instalment, imaginatively entitled New England, covered my time on the east coast in New England: Boston, Providence and Portland, Maine, to be precise. The second instalment, Heading West, covered my journey west, by train, from Portland in Maine, to Portland in Oregon, a total of just over three days on the train, although I had a couple of stop-offs along the way. This, the final instalment, covers my week in the Pacific Northwest and my flight home.
I wrote Brian’s Travel Spot to enable you to follow my adventures as they unfolded. Unfortunately, as the trip went along, the Travel Spot got further and further behind, so now you’ll be reliving my adventures. As with the first two posts, I’ll update this post every few days, in between my normal Coffee Spot posts, the idea being to capture the highlights, with the emphasis on the travel rather than the coffees shops (although they feature too).
One of the many things I like about Portland’s coffee scene is that it’s not just confined to the centre. There seems to be good coffee all over the city, especially east of the Willamette River. Such is the case with Either/Or, which was not on my original list. However, it was independently recommended to me by baristas from both Case Study Coffee Roasters and Coava Coffee Roasters as the place to go in Portland. Although quite a way south of the centre, it’s not the sort of recommendation you can ignore, so I hopped on the Number 70 bus down to the Sellwood-Moreland neighbourhood.
What I found was a delightful little place that was well worth the trip. Either/Or is something of a rarity in an American market where café/roasters seem to be the established model. It’s a genuine multi-roaster establishment, regularly rotating beans from local roasters Roseline and Heart, plus Seattle’s Kuma Coffee. Denver’s Huckleberry Roasters and Oregon’s Bespoken Coffee Roasters occasionally make appearances too. While coffee’s clearly the primary focus, with two tasting flights (see Slate Coffee Roasters) on offer, it also helps that Either/Or is one of the nicest spots I’ve been to in a while.
Welcome to the second instalment of Brian’s Travel Spot, which follows my three week adventure across the USA. The first instalment, imaginatively entitled New England, covered my time on the east coast in New England: Boston, Providence and Portland, Maine, to be precise. This second instalment covers my journey west, by train, as I thread my way, city to city, to my ultimate destination.
The idea behind Brian’s Travel Spot is that it enables you to follow my adventures as they unfold. As with the New England post, I’ll update this post every few days, in between my normal Coffee Spot posts, the idea being to capture the highlights, with the emphasis on the travel rather than the coffees shops (although I’m sure they’ll feature).