While it would be fun and cheeky to say “yes” as an answer to the question of coffee, there are a few places we don’t recommend, and this will depend on where your tour begins (our shop? downtown?) and the time. If you’re finding this post without having booked a tour at all, it’s still a good idea to evaluate your coffee choices carefully: we have some of the best coffee in the world here (objectively! our roasters and baristas frequently place in national and international competitions).
Without coffee, would any of us love the city so much? Coffee is a ritual in which Portlanders engage in so many ways, from knowing the origins of coffee around the world along with their classic flavor profiles (you can’t say “Ethiopia” in the city without evoking the taste and smell of blueberries), to the slow careful craft roasting of the beans throughout the city’s inner SE and outer NW industrial districts, to the ritual of the coffee shop pour-over or espresso pull, to the usual meet-and-greet, first date, or friendly chat evoked by “let’s have a coffee.”
Portland’s craft coffee roasting scene is one of the best in the world. Stumptown Coffee (now owned by Peet’s) and its founder, Duane Sorenson, are credited with beginning the wave of craft roasting that spread through the country in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Upper Left Coffee Roasters, SE Portland — Ladd’s Addition
Good for early morning! On many a bike tour, we stop at Upper Left Coffee Roasters (1204 SE Clay St, on the “upper left” corner of Ladd’s Addition) for its delicious coffee, outrageously good breakfast sandwiches, and the proximity of its outdoor seating area to the roasting operation. Order a cappuccino or just a classic drip coffee, sit on one of the outside tables, and watch the bicyclists commute by. The current seasonal beverages include some outrageously good iced teas and our favorite and most-recommended Cafe de Olla; orange-peel infused cold brew, sweetened with piloncillo and topped with dairy, oat or hazelnut-cashew milk. For chocolatey treats, try the cacao-infused cold brew made with Ranger Chocolate’s cacao. The breakfast options are rich and full of carefully-cooked eggs (no one poaches like Upper Left), delicate greens, perfect vegetables, and our favorite breads from little t baker. Open at 7 a.m. most days; plenty of vegan options.
Coava Coffee Grand Avenue, SE Portland — Inner Eastside
Great for morning cappuccino! We are huge fans and daily drinkers of Coava Coffee (1300 SE Grand Ave, just three blocks from our shop), famous locally for their intense variety of carefully roasted beans direct from growers as well as their perfect pourovers. Coava doesn’t serve drip coffee at all — just espressos and espresso-based coffee our their signature pourovers. Most days they have two different sources of coffee to choose from, along with a nice variety of pastries in an industrial space that’s also home to a bamboo furniture maker. Open at 7 a.m. every day and until 6 p.m.
Honey Latte Cafe, SE Portland — Inner Eastside
A chill space to hang out and plan your day. We think of Honey Latte (1033 SE Main Street, just two blocks from our shop) as the indie music coffee shop, as they opened in the pretty elevator space (an old cargo elevator hangs over the kitchen area) with basically a music festival of bands favored by the young crowd. Their signature honey latte is delicious, as are their vegan baked goods and breakfast burritos and they have a pretty couch as well as lots of spaces to set up your MacBook Air and do a little mid-morning coding or update your Etsy site. Not open super-early (8 a.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. weekends), but a great choice for a beverage before your afternoon or mid-morning tour.
Less and More Coffee, SW Portland — Downtown
Pre-walking tour favorite. When Less and More Coffee (1003 SW 5th Avenue, four blocks from Director Park, where our walking tours begin) opened during the height of the pandemic, we really couldn’t believe our luck; an old bus stop makes a mushroom-shaped container for some of Portland’s best coffee, all served in the open air. The outrageously perfect drip coffee (roasted by a friend of the owner’s) and delicious specialty lattes have regulars lining up, and the pop-ups by unique bakeries and other treat-makers are an ever-changing delight. Open at 7:30 a.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. weekends — and you can order ahead and have it waiting.
Behind the Museum Cafe, SW Portland — Downtown
Japanese savory and sweet bites, tea and coffee for the mid-day. Even on days the museum isn’t open, popping into the Behind the Museum Cafe (1229 SW 10th Avenue, four blocks from our walking tour start) is a wonderful way to give yourself a cultural infusion. Before a downtown walking tour or city tour in the afternoon, you can find onigiri, miso soup, baguette and bagel sandwiches, and the best affogato in downtown Portland. The cafe doesn’t open until 11 a.m., but is open every day and until 5 p.m. (museum closing hours) Wednesday through Sunday.
Snow Bunny Coffee, NW Portland — Pearl District
Few neighborhood coffee shops stayed open early every day during 2020, and we don’t know what we would have done without the constant sweet energy and consistently perfect Coava Coffee from Snow Bunny Coffee (1415 NW 11th Ave, near what we call the frontier of the Pearl District). The few outdoor seats overlooking The Fields Park are great for meeting friends, people- and dog-watching; the treats are from the luscious St. Honore Bakery and the non-caffeinated drink possibilities include an amazing milk tea. Also open at 7 a.m. most mornings.
Barista NW, NW Portland — Pearl District
Who is open in downtown Portland for great coffee early in the morning? Barista NW (539 NW 13th Ave, in the inner Pearl District very near central downtown) spent time in 2020 and 2021 as the only option, and such a good one we couldn’t help but recommend. Barista is a classic choice in the past decade in the city, well-known for their exacting detail to each and every drink (don’t expect fast service!), incredibly beautiful old buildings, and high attention to the art of selecting and roasting the best beans. We either stick with the very excellent drip coffees, or go for something over-the-top, like the special lattes with marzipan and honey. Open at 6 a.m. on weekdays and 7 a.m. on weekends.
Tov, SE Portland — Hawthorne District
Our food cart bike tour stopped at Tov (3207 SE Hawthorne, in the giant red bus at the back of the food cart pod) before the pandemic-era changes, one of the most original and delightful experiences in Portland coffee. The owner, of Egyptian heritage, has made a wonderland of creative coffee and tea beverages inspired by Egypt, Turkey and his own imagination. From the classic and deeply sludgey Egyptian Coffee to the Rose Mocha to “Sounds like trouble with the cops” (vanilla latte with reduced rum), there is something to rev you up. The Mint Thing, cold brew coffee with mint and oat milk, is so beloved it can now be found in cans in stores all over the city. Get the experience, though, of ordering and (if luck allows) enjoying in the red double decker bus that once served a coastal town in England — our tour no longer visits the bus because the real treat is a spot in the upper deck, and groups are not a good fit with this intimate space. Bring your sweetheart, sibling or kiddo for a beautiful one-on-one.