Short-Take: Portland’s Coffee Central

Portland is that third city on the West Coast that is similar to Vancouver and Seattle.

Comparable in size to Vancouver, both cities share many similarities: industry, port city, wet winters, trendy urban districts, fiery-hot real estate markets…the list could go on.

The Portland coffee scene seems to be on-par with Vancouver’s as well. Two weeks ago, I visited the city for an annual sports competition I compete in, and made some time to check out the city and the coffee scene within.

After some research and mapping out good coffee spots around the city relative to my hotel, Stumptown Coffee Roasters looked to be the spot. Cruising through some of Portland’s more historic neighborhoods in the Hawthorne district, I arrived at Stumptown.

The original location where roasting occurs daily, I thought this would be the location to take in the full Stumptown experience. Housed in an old low-rise brick warehouse, the location is in a quiet residential neighborhood; the perfect setting for a great coffee meeting place. I decided to start the tasting off with an espresso macchiato, a good choice to test out the espresso.

Hair Bender is their espresso mainstay; it is a lighter roast, sort of a northern Italian style. These guys know how to prepare a proper bar drink as well. After cruising around the back of the retail store and snooping around their roaster and bins of ready-to-roast green beans, I gained the sense that these guys are really into the source of their product.

Cruising through their website, the focus on supporting sustainable growers and the socio-economic aspects of coffee overseas certainly appears to be a focus for this company. I then grabbed an Americano for the road, and 1lb. of Hair Bender whole beans to enjoy once back in Vancouver.

There are five locations of Stumptown in the Portland area, and two locations much closer to me in downtown Seattle. I came away from my visit making some very similar comparison to a few coffee shops in Vancouver. JJ Bean and 49th Parallel could be seen as the Vancouver equivalents of this Portland shop. I will say that the Stumptown espresso is right up there with the best I have had on the West-Coast (considered to be coffee-central for North America). As well as checking out a few more independent coffee shops in the Portland area, I can now say that this city has just one more thing in common with it’s two Pacific-Northwest sister cities to the north.

Dave Reimer is a Vancouver resident, gold medalist rower, itinerant dude and all around great guy. His contributions periodically grace the coffeecrew blog.