While Seattle is known as the ‘city of coffee’, I actually found the majority of Portland’s coffee hard to match. La Marzocco was the only café in Seattle that I visited where the coffee really stood out; they were actually using Stumptown Coffee which is a Portland based roaster.
Here’s a list of my top spots for coffee in the Pacific Northwest. There’s definitely a few places that I didn’t get a chance to visit, so I’ll be sure to check those out next time I’m in town.
I think the greatest thing about the cafés in Portland was that the barista’s genuinely loved (and were very knowledgable about) coffee. The coffee scene is huge in Portland and while there’s still a Starbucks on every corner, it really does put the rest of America to shame.
1. Heart Coffee, Portland
Heart coffee was named 14th on the Daily Meals ’50 Best Coffee Shops’ list in 2014. If you get the chance to visit Heart, be sure to ask for their almond-cashew milk. It’s homemade and the cashew makes it so much tastier and smoother than regular almond milk. There’s some really cool singular outdoor table and chairs, with lot’s of room inside too. It’s just a nice, clean and bright coffee shop with really great tasting coffee.
Best Bits: Homemade almond milk and great baristas
Drawbacks: Limited choice of bakery items and snacks. No WiFi on weekends
Opening Times: Mon-Fri: 7am-6pm; Sat-Sun 8am-6pm
2. La Marzocco, Seattle
I did a short write up on La Marzocco which you can find here. I was amazed at what these guys have created. There’s such a great vibe in the huge open space located right next to Key Arena. I think it’s going to become a really popular spot in Seattle, particularly with the rotation of different roasters every month or so. I believe La Marzocco also do training days in the café too, as well as music nights with KEXP radio station based next door.
Best Bits: Interior design is awesome. So much space to relax and sit in
Drawbacks: Nothing to fault just yet!
Location: 472 1st Ave. N, Seattle
Opening Times: Mon – Sat: 7am – 8pm; Sun: unknown
3. Good Life Coffee, Portland
Not only does Good Life have good coffee but it’s the atmosphere of the café that I love the most. It’s one of the smaller cafés I visited in Portland and I believe there are two of them, both on the east side. Good people, good coffee. What more could you want? This is also the place to go if you are big tea drinker, with a great selection of speciality and herbal drinks. Being on the east side, prices are marginally cheaper too.
Best Bits: Great baristas and a large selection of teas
Drawbacks: Expect a bit of a queue if it’s busy
Location: 4747 SE Division St, Portland
Opening Times: Mon-Sun: 7am-7pm
4. Coava Coffee, Portland
Coava is great! If you do get a chance to visit Portland, I would 100% recommend heading over to Coava and taking a look. It’s just a really unique spot. The actual café is so aesthetically pleasing and the coffee tastes really good. There’s not much in the way of food but there’s really only one thing to visit Coava for and that’s the coffee. Try get to the one on SE Grand Ave if you can.
Best Bits: Their cold brew is particularly tasty.
Drawbacks: Limited seating even though it’s such a huge space. They could fit an extra 20 tables inside but I guess the beauty is in the open space.
Opening Times: Mon-Fri: 6am-6pm; Sat-Sun: 7am-6pm
5. Stumptown Coffee, Portland
Stumptown Coffee is great spot in Downtown Portland. They actually supply coffee to a huge number of cafés in the Pacific Northwest, making them one of America’s more famous roasters. The music may be a little loud to work in Stumptown but there’s a good amount of space inside the store that I have listed. You really can’t fault the coffee, I guess the success of each café will come down to the skill of the barista! It’s not everyone’s vibe but nonetheless, enjoyable.
Best Bits: Lots of seating in a really nice layout with a huge bar area to sit and people watch.
Drawbacks: The wooden interior makes it pretty dark inside and the music can be pretty loud too.
Location: 128 SW 3rd Ave, Portland, OR 97204
Opening Times: Mon-Fri: 6am-6pm; Sat-Sun: 7am-6pm
6. Milstead Coffee, Seattle
Milstead was great! It’s located in Fremont so if you’re on the hunt for the ‘troll under the bridge’ then definitely stop by (still not quite sure what the deal is with that). There’s a great choice of alternative drinks so if coffee isn’t your thing, you’ll be very happy here. Really great cakes, nice people. I can definitely recommend the Rhubarb and Ginger drink and all their food looks exceptionally good. Milstead is just a few blocks away from the Google offices so don’t be surprised to see a number of ‘creatives’ getting their morning caffeine fix.
Best Bits: The staff are super friendly and welcoming. Early opening hours makes it an ideal spot for a morning coffee.
Drawbacks: It can be a little bit dark inside. Nothing much to complain about here!
Opening Times: Mon-Friday: 6am-6pm; Sat-Sun: 7am-6pm
These were definitely my favourite spots in the Pacific Northwest. Other cafés which I visited and are worth noting would be Barista and Sterling Coffee, both in Portland.
Thanks for reading and if you haven’t seen it already, you can watch the ‘coffee vlog’ from Portland and Seattle by heading over to my Youtube Channel: DanCarterNow. I had the best time exploring both Washington and Oregon. They are both staggeringly beautiful and totally unique. You can drive just a couple of hours and arrive in a totally different landscape and climate. A huge thank you to both Pan Pacific and Visit Seattle for their generosity and hospitality. For now, it’s back home for a few weeks to knuckle down on my last weeks of training before I head to Durban for Comrades!
If you’re heading to Portland or Seattle, stop by a few of these cafés and let me know what you think. It would be awesome to hear your thoughts.
Thanks for reading.
Until next time!