Coffee isn’t just a beverage in Oregon. It’s a culture. That much is clear by the more than 200 specialty coffee shops and micro-roasters throughout the state, including around 80 roasters in Portland alone.
Great coffee shops are nothing new, but what has sprung up in the past two decades or so is what’s known as the “third-wave” movement: viewing coffee not as a commodity but as an artisan product, like wine. For baristas, tastemakers and enthusiasts, it’s been a renaissance of innovation in sourcing, roasting and blending methods as they strive for the highest quality flavor, variety and sustainable labor practices.
This expertise in specialty coffee is something you can experience firsthand on a tour of Portland’s coffee scene through Third Wave Coffee Tours. As she takes visitors to cafes, roasters and donut shops, tour guide and business owner Lora Woodruff shares her knowledge and love of coffee and her city.
“One of the really special things about Portland is the sheer quantity of high-quality coffee we have access to,” she says.
Born out of a fun project to get out of the house with her young daughter, Woodruff’s tour business has taken her to upwards of 150 coffee shops. Alongside speaking to countless coffee artisans, Woodruff has gained intimate knowledge about the craft and industry by taking a barista course and a roasting class. She enjoys telling others about the level of attention that goes into each step of the detailed process of creating the perfectly brewed cup.
“Each roaster is going for a very unique experience where you can appreciate the nuance of the high-quality agricultural product they’re roasting,” she says. “Seeing a city through its food and beverage is such a great experience and the coffee scene is such a lovely way to see Portland.”
All across the state, you can experience Oregon through its artisan roasters and their carefully crafted coffee drinks. Here are a few places to find a great cup:
Coffee enthusiasts will not want to miss a stop at Stumptown Coffee Roasters, a Portland staple that Woodruff calls a pioneer of the third wave for their early adoption of direct trade. Visit their locations in downtown and Southeast Portland, where they serve pastries and breakfast sandwiches from Shoofly Vegan Bakery and Sparrow Bakery alongside their tasty coffee drinks. Be sure to also check out Coava Coffee, Nossa Familia Coffee, Water Avenue Coffee and Dapper & Wise.
On the Coast, Sleepy Monk Coffee Roasters in Cannon Beach is a well-known, longtime hotspot for fair-trade, organic single-origin roasts. The Adirondacks outside this cozy bungalow cafe — filled with recycled decor — are a perfect outpost for storm watching, sunset gazing and newspaper reading with your favorite latte in hand. Also on the coast, check out Left Coast Coffee Co. in Depoe Bay and Lincoln City and River Roasters in Florence.
Mt. Hood & Columbia River Gorge
For the team at Stoked Roasters in Hood River, coffee is life. The company launched in 2014 with a team of competitive athletes and outdoor enthusiasts — ultra-runners, ultra-cyclists, triathletes, mountain bikers, climbers, kiteboarders, skiiers, snowboarders and more. They sell their high-quality organic coffee — including a house-blend espresso, single-origin espressos, blends and gift packs — to the masses for fueling up on outdoor adventures. Other caffeine stops in Hood River include Doppio and Ground Espresso Bar & Cafe. If you’re up for a drive along the stunning Mt. Hood Scenic Byway, head to Rhododendron for a cup from Mt. Hood Roasters.
To ensure consistency in delivering their high-quality product, Pendleton’s Buckin’ Bean Coffee Roasters uses an infra-red burner rather than roasting coffee beans with a direct open flame. Be to stay for breakfast or lunch, with a menu of delicious items featuring ingredients baked goods from Rolling Stone Bakery and meats from Hill Meats. The centrally located cafe hosts sewing circles, book clubs and other community events.
Find your favorite spot along the Eastern Oregon Farm Loop and its various self-guided trails.
You may have heard of Sisters Coffee Company — they’ve been around since 1989, when owners Winfield and Joy Durham converted an old cabin into a small coffee roasting business with their first 2-pound roaster and homemade baked goods. In 2005 they rebuilt the cabin into their new building, and in 2011 they opened the sleek two-story Sisters Coffee in Portland’s Pearl District, serving up the same rustic charm. They maintain direct relationships with their farmers in Central America, celebrate the beauty of the Sisters region and sell to more than 200 retailers statewide.
Find your favorite spot along the High Desert Food Trail.
In Ashland, visit Noble Coffee Roasting, which has had 13 finalists and 8 winning coffees in the Good Food Awards, a national contest with entries selected for their tastiness and commitment to sustainability. Noble’s founders launched the company as a way to experiment with coffee, study its complexities and break it down into approachable ideas for coffee lovers everywhere.
In Eugene, coffee geek and Oregon Duck Brian Sung launched Tailored Coffee Roasters while running another cafe, Brails Espresso — a spin-off of his family’s longtime diner, Brails, in uptown Eugene. While the espresso stand was in the Brails parking lot, he wanted a space large enough to roast small batches of beans on-site, in the same place customers could enjoy it. Like most third-wave roasters, he wanted to focus on Scandinavian-style light roasts, which he describes as “sweet, juicy” high-quality coffee. Another Eugene mainstay, The Wandering Goat, honors sustainable practices and serves fresh roasts from its funky cafe in the Whiteaker district. Up north, Caravan Coffee in Newberg offers intimate cupping classes right next to where the ethically sourced beans are roasted.