Portland is an underrated coffee town. It may not have the national reputation of Seattle, its rival to the north in Washington state, but it has a quirkier, more independent vibe that suits the city in general.
When residents want a cup of joe, they don’t want to head to a giant coffee conglomerate. Plenty of those exist, but Portlanders prefer small independent roaster, regional coffeehouse chains, or even a coffee-serving bus.
If you’re east of the Willamette River and looking for a caffeine fix, we’ve got you covered. Read on for a taste of the best East Portland coffee roasters.
Coava Coffee, 1015 SE Main St.
Start at Coava Coffee’s brew bar and roastery in Southeast Portland.
Coava began in founder Matt Higgins’ garage a decade ago, but it’s now one of the most famous coffee roasters in town. When you arrive at the Main Street location, you’ll find a large warehouse that was built in the 1920s. Inside, though, you’ll find a very modern cup that’s centered around an ethical sourcing model.
Coava Coffee uses Arabica beans instead of Robusta beans. Arabica beans have a higher acidity and a sweeter, more nuanced taste than Robusta beans.
Robusta is cheaper with a higher caffeine content, but it also comes with a harsher taste. If you’ve had a cup of office coffee that tasted like burned rubber, that was Robusta.
Stop by this Coava Coffee location at 1 p.m. Monday through Saturday to sample a rotating menu of single origin specialty
Arabica coffees during a “cupping” that’s kind of like a wine tasting, albeit with coffee beans instead of fermented grapes. If you fall in love with one of the flavors, you can take home some bagged coffee at a post-cupping discount.
Stumptown Coffee Roasters, 4525 SE Division St.
Stumptown has numerous locations inside and outside the city (you can even get it in New York and Chicago), but we like the Division Street location because it’s the one that got everything started back in 1999.
In 2015, Stumptown was purchased by California-based Peet’s Coffee Company, so it’s no longer owned locally. But the company is still headquartered in the city that gave it its name. That makes it a Portland roasting company, at least for us.
Stumptown has a roasting facility on SE Salmon Street, although they also do some coffee roasting on Division Street.
Third-wave coffee is big with Portland roasters, and Stumptown is no exception. Broadly speaking, third-wave coffee is focused on coffee as a craft worth honing rather than just a product that needs to be churned out as quickly as possible.
Third-wave coffee shops are big on concepts like “direct trade,” which means they buy the coffee you’re sipping from the source rather than through a middleman.
Tov Coffee and Tea, 3207 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
There’s unconventional, and then there’s “drinking Egyptian coffee on the rooftop of a double-decker bus.” Tov has only been around three years, but it’s already a must-visit location for locals in the Hawthorne District.
Never had homemade chocolate-wine sauce with your coffee? Now’s your chance to correct that oversight.
In the summertime, try a cold mocha with chocolate milk cubes for extra flavor.
The shop is run by Joe Nazir, an Egyptian immigrant who came to America as a child in the 1990s. His family ended up in Portland, and as an adult, he found an old tour bus from San Diego and converted into the Tov bus. During the World Cup, patrons could watch the Egyptian soccer team’s matches while sipping coffee and munching on pastries.
Jet Black Coffee Company, 11150 NE Weidler St.
Are you meat-free in Portland? If so, you picked a good place for it, as Portland is incredibly welcoming to both vegetarians and vegans.
In fact, it’s been named the second-best city in the country for vegetarians and vegans, beating out bigger cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco (but not New York City, which ranks first).
One reason Bridgetown does so well is because of places like Jet Black Coffee Company. There’s not a drop of cow’s milk to be found here, as Jet Black prides itself on serving entirely plant-based coffee and food. Milk alternatives include coconut, almond, hemp, oat, and soy, and make sure to try the in-house coffee blend, Dear You.
If you want a snack with your drink, they have dishes like tomato pie and chocolate donuts, all sourced from local bakers. Depending on when you visit, you might even catch them in the middle of a fundraiser for a local dog rescue. If so, feel free to pick up a stylish “Drink coffee, pet dogs” mug for a good cause.
Heart Coffee Roasters, 5181 SE Woodstock Blvd.
The Woodstock cafe is the third and newest location for Heart. And we like it because it has an impressive food menu to complement the stellar coffee selection. One sip will help you understand why Heart has some of the best coffee beans in Portland.
Choose a cup of coffee sourced from Central America, South America, or Africa, and then look at the time of day before deciding what to eat.
If it’s before 11 a.m., try the porridge with pasture butter, syrup, and your choice of milk. There are several varieties of toast, including avocado toast if you want to feel like a stereotypical member of the millennial generation.
If it’s lunchtime, it’s hard to go wrong with the lunch board that includes hummus, blueberry and marionberry jam, pickles, bread, and everybody’s favorite, “rotating cheeses.”
Don’t worry if you go a little overboard on the cheese; you can always take a cycling trip around the east side to burn off some of those calories.
Other East Portland Coffee Roasters
We hope this list got you ready to check out all the great coffee on the east side of town. But if you’d like to do some more research, we understand.
In fact, we started our blog because we’re big on helping people find superior local products, regardless of if they’re looking for East Portland coffee roasters, a good seafood restaurant downtown, or a tasty burger joint in the Pearl District.
Head to our blog for more tips on the best the Pacific Northwest has to offer.