Matty’s Pacific Northwest Coffee Adventures: Part Two

see Part 1 and Part 3

The second leg of the trip was in Portland, Oregon. The city is still scarred from a year of political violence, and there was a sense of uncertainty of when or if some kind of normal will return, and what it will look like. But the attractions of the Rose City are still clear.

We stayed in the Pearl District, near downtown. Again we saw and did a lot, enjoying more great food, visited world famous Powell’s City of Books, and took a day trip out the Columbia River Gorge, visiting Multnomah Falls and the waterfront town of Hood River.

the spectacular Multnomah Falls

I was able to get an invitation to the adidas employee store. You may identify the guys with the swoosh in suburban Beaverton with the Portland area, but the brand with the three stripes has its US headquarters in town. Lots of great gear and swag, all 50% off retail. Very cool.

Portland more than lived up to its reputation as a coffee haven. The best coffee of the trip and perhaps one of the most memorable I’ve ever had was found at Proud Mary, the only US outlet of a Melbourne, Australia café. Made with their Ghost Rider blend, the cup packed layer upon layer of complex flavor. Chocolate, clean high-pitched fruit reminiscent of Gesha coffee, breadth, depth, just amazing. Love how they group their roasts by Mild-Curious-Wild. Will definitely be ordering by mail.

I’ve long sung the praises of Portland roasters Heart, and was not disappointed by my visit to their Westside café. They just simply do a great job roasting beans, full stop. If I had to drink just one coffee every day for the rest of my life, this would probably be it. And the barista made incredible milk art for such a tiny cup.

“Where can I get good coffee in Portland?”
Good Coffee.”
“Yeah, that’s what I’m asking you.”
“Yes, Good Coffee!”
“But where can I get it????”
“They have a nice café in the Woodlark building downtown on SW Alder.”
“Who does?”
“Good Coffee!”
“But……. THAT’S WHAT I BEEN ASKING YOU!”

FIRST BASE!!!!
(image from YouTube, via CNBC.com)

Beautiful setting. Friendly, highly skilled baristas. A drink that makes you think they sold themselves short when naming the business.

Stumptown might be Portland’s best known specialty coffee roaster, and with good reason. They put out a high quality product, and their reach is massive as their beans can be found all over the US at specialty coffee shops and on supermarket shelves. They are owned by mass café operator Peet’s and in turn by German conglomerate JAB Holding Company. I visited their café in the Ace Hotel on SW Harvey Milk Street, and they manage to strike a balance between quality and quantity. Spunky, chatty baristas, attention to detail, quality drinks. Still maintains the feel of an independent roaster operating a few cafés even if those days are well in the rear view mirror.

In Hood River, STOKED Roasters is located along the waterfront, up against the gorgeous Waterfront Park. The best part of their coffee….. well, probably the view? Just not a good cup of coffee, but having the open grassy expanse, beach, a front row seat to the efforts of kiteboarders, and a look across the river and down the gorge cushions the blow. Though the brewing is probably a lot better next door at the pFriem Family microbrewery.

If you want to trade off the view for a better cup, you’re better off heading to the center of Hood River to Dog River Coffee. Friendly people making good coffee.

Coming next in Part Three, down to Eugene, and a swing up the coast before heading home.

One thought on “Matty’s Pacific Northwest Coffee Adventures: Part Two”

  1. Love your Proud Mary poesy, both here and in person. When you get the “wild” beans shipped out, I’d love to join you in a tasting!

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