Every morning, I grind up some of my Bolivian coffee beans and make a steaming hot cup of coffee. My French press was one of the first purchases I made when I started working full-time, and it’s been a worthwhile investment. While I’m fully aware that my love for coffee is verging on addiction, I can’t seem to stop. Unlike many people I know, I actually enjoy the taste. Whether it’s a simple cup of black coffee or a foamy cappuccino, I’ll happily savor each sip.
The past few weeks, I have taken on the arduous task of sampling as many coffee shops as possible in hopes to discover the very best beans in town. Hard work, I know. Shout out to my good friend Haley, who teamed up with me on much of this mission. Check out my list from best to worst below!
1. Crema Bakery & Cafe | 2728 Southeast Ankeny Street
Crema is easily my current favorite cafe in Portland. There are so many reasons that make this place the bee’s knees. First off, parking is always easy, which reconciles the extra fifteen minutes it takes me to get there. The location is awesome, too. It’s nestled in between a handful of vintage shops that are fun to check out before or after your caffeine overdose. There’s plenty of seating inside, and while it’s certainty not equipped with the most comfortable chairs, the coffee makes it all worth it.
Full disclosure: I’ve only gotten their specialty drinks, so I can’t attest to anything other than their fantastic lattes. I don’t generally enjoy sweet drinks, but the in-house flavoring they add to their signature lattes is hard to beat. You’ve got to try out their baked goods, which are the perfect compliment to any drink. Pair a caramel sutra latte with a pain au chocolat, and you’re guaranteed to agree with me.
2. Cathedral Coffee | 7530 North Willamette Boulevard
Cathedral Coffee is easily one of my favorite coffee shops in Portland. It has a fantastic atmosphere and it’s not usually crowded. It’s cozy and eclectic with full-length windows, a mini library, and a solid selection of background music. Their baristas are personable and the atmosphere is easy-going, making it a prime place to hang out for a few hours. Don’t miss out on their pour-over coffee or their fresh baked quiche. I haven’t tried anything I haven’t loved here, so you can’t go wrong.
3. Ristretto Roasters | 2181 Northwest Nicolai Street
Ahhh, Ristretto. This is an easy third choice for me. Stop in at the one attached to Schoolhouse Electric if you can. The vibe is awesome, and you can check out all of the incredibly expensive, beautiful things inside Schoolhouse Electric that you wish you could decorate your home with. All of their drinks are delicious, but I prefer the cold brew coffee when I need an extra dose of caffeine.
4. Barista | 823 Northwest 23rd Avenue
Barista is great. They have locations scattered all over town, and one isn’t necessarily better than the other. The benefit of the 23rd location is that they’ve got giant a bunch of half circle leather booths that make you feel perfectly sheltered from the rest of the world. Their regular coffee is great, but I’d recommend trying out their lattes and cappuccinos, too. The baristas are always friendly and knowledgeable about which espresso to pair with what, making it a lot easier to score a winning combination.
5. GrindHouse Coffee | 1934 North Rosa Parks Way
GrindHouse is a good place to stop at for a quick cup of coffee during your commute from here to there. It’s basically a “coffee cart,” so don’t expect to sit and sip. Their drinks aren’t outstanding, but they do make a good latte with Extracto Coffee Beans. Plus, they have a sign outside that says “Sexy Coffee,” so when you drink their brew you become sexier by the second.
6. Coava Coffee Roasters | 1300 Southeast Grand Avenue
I’m going to veer away from popular opinion and say that Coava is just okay. I’ve tried quite a few cappuccinos here, and they’ve never blown me away. Their coffee is good quality, but it’s nothing I can’t snag somewhere else for a few bucks less. The spacious interior isn’t very inviting, with some tables scattered about, mediocre lighting, and a spattering of other random wooden items whose purpose I am unsure of.
7. Heart Coffee | 537 Southwest 12th Avenue
I’m not a fan of Heart Coffee, though let it be known that I have only tried out the Southwest location (don’t even ask how long it took me to park). It’s a charming spot, located right on the street corner with wide windows and a modern feel to it. Personally, I wasn’t impressed by their coffee, which was more expensive than many other places around Portland. Perhaps I didn’t go on the right day, but I didn’t have the best experience.