Portland Cafes, It's a Lifestyle

James Knowlton

Let's get buzzed on bean juice in the PNW! While the coffee quality is absolutely considered, this list is really about ambiance. Coffee experts don't come at me, feel free to make a list of your own. Who doesn't love a good cafe to work in, get cozy, and / or have an awkward first date at. Hopefully these places will make all those experiences a little more enjoyable. Hey, even if the date doesn't work out, at least you'll have your new go to chill spot.

Common Grounds Coffeehouse, Keeper Coffee Co, Cloudforest, La Perlita, Behind The Museum Cafe, Upper Left Roasters, Ardent Coffee, PUSH X PULL COFFEE, Either/Or, Sweedeedee, Cathedral Coffee, Rimsky-Korsakoffee House, Albina Press, Bison Coffeehouse, Courier Coffee, Never Coffee, Tov Coffee & Tea

  • Common Grounds Coffeehouse in Portland, United States

    Image of Common Grounds Coffeehouse on Seeker
    • jajajames

      I lump Common Grounds and Tiny's on MLK together (is this blasphemy) as the old hats of Portland. They are the coffee shops with the decent bagel sandwiches, the bulletin boards stuffed with flyers, the cozy sofas and mixed furniture. Common Grounds on SE Hawthorne has been around for years. All these sleek new coffee shops can try their best, but we'll see who can stick around that long. This is a great place to just chill and not worry about who's going to judge you for what you're wearing or who you are, perhaps for what you are reading though.

  • Keeper Coffee Co in Portland, United States

    Image of Keeper Coffee Co on Seeker
    • jajajames

      Keeper coffee is new on the block and they come with endearing messages. Their website states they center BIPOC, trans, and houseless people in their work and space. The cafe is quickly becoming a town favorite with its kinfolk, homey vibe and delicious pastries. You cannot come here and leave without a baked treat. Can we make that a rule?

  • Cloudforest in Portland, United States

    Image of Cloudforest on Seeker
    • jajajames

      Cloudforest has an emphasis on chocolate, but as you can see from their instagram they also have incredible taste, style, and beautiful items to enjoy. All your senses will leave feeling nourished and brightened. They have seasonal items and the menu is often changing. Yes, you can find coffee here, but oh so much more.

  • La Perlita in Portland, United States

    Image of La Perlita on Seeker
    • jajajames

      Owned by a self-named first-gen. POC Angel Medina, La Perlita is a very important coffee shop in Portland, claiming space for the BIPOC community. Medina prioritizes sourcing coffee from his home country of Mexico. This includes adding a roaster, Reforma, to the mix in the last few years. Additionally, you can expect food pop-ups from local women and BIPOC makers in town. Medina has used some of the profits of La Perlita to help struggling cafes in Mexico as well as donated to DACA. All things we need to support, now more than ever.

  • Behind The Museum Cafe in Portland, United States

    Image of Behind The Museum Cafe on Seeker
    • jajajames

      For the coffee and non-coffee lovers alike, this Japanese cafe serves Extracto coffee, varying teas, and other coffee alternatives. The environment is quiet, tranquil, and inviting. The staff contribute to this environment of serenity. A great place to stop after a museum visit, to sit and process all you have visually absorbed.

  • Upper Left Roasters in Portland, United States

    Image of Upper Left Roasters on Seeker
    • jajajames

      Upper Left is a good place to meet a friend for a quick coffee and chat or to have a quick zoom call, it is for casual hangs and workers alike. The design isn't anything to write home about per say, but they make up for that with darn good, creative drinks, pour over coffees, single origin as well as blends (somewhat unusual in this town), and good lighting. If you wonder into Ladds, check-out the rose gardens, but try not to get lost. I dare you.

  • Ardent Coffee in Portland, United States

    Image of Ardent Coffee on Seeker
    • jajajames

      I have not been here as its fairly new, but its mission is incredible so I needed to add it. It is volunteer-run and donation-based!!! Amazing! Ardent serves up coffee from Sweet Bloom Roasters based in Denver. All profits from Ardent go to International Justice Mission, a non-profit organization that helps combat slavery around the world.

  • PUSH X PULL COFFEE in Portland, United States

    Image of PUSH X PULL COFFEE on Seeker
    • jajajames

      Push X Pull a SE micro-roaster coffee shop, heavy on the design aesthetic vibe of many new (last 5-10 years) Portland coffee shops. It has an industrial, yet cheery, almost old school (literally) vibe and with that industrial moment it has the espresso and coffee equipment to follow through. The coffee here is good. Period

  • Either/Or in Portland, United States

    Image of Either/Or on Seeker
    • jajajames

      A fairly new spot, opened in the last few years. It is a queer owned space that transforms from a coffee shop by day to a bar at night, that use to have a legendary, but short lived lesbian karaoke night. Aside from the fun and raucous shenanigans, you can leave here well fed, caffeinated, buzzed, and hydrated. All your dreams fulfilled.

  • Sweedeedee in Portland, United States

    Image of Sweedeedee on Seeker
    • jajajames

      This is truly more of a cafe than a coffee shop, but I felt it must be on the list. It definitely has a lot of hype and an old melded with new Portland aura to it. It precedes its reputation, the food with a rotating seasonal menu, is incredible and the coffee delicious. The environment feels very kitschy, but not cringe. I would linger here for much longer if I could, but than you'd have to deal with all the people waiting to sit down glaring at you. I promise, its worth the wait. You can stop in to Mississippi Records next door before or after your brunch.

  • Cathedral Coffee in Portland, United States

    Image of Cathedral Coffee on Seeker
    • jajajames

      Cathedral coffee is a great place to stop on the way to or the way back from St. Johns and Cathedral Park. Pre-pandemic there was ample indoor seating and that has been limited to a degree, but you can still expect to be fed and caffeinated well with delicious goods. It is also a great place to do work, but know this is down the street from a University so you'll have electrical outlet competition.

  • Rimsky-Korsakoffee House in Portland, United States

    Image of Rimsky-Korsakoffee House on Seeker
    • jajajames

      Alright, let's take a sharp turn away from artisan and high quality coffee for a moment and go straight into high quality quirk. Yet another SE staple for many years, this place is as unique and strange as it gets. The decor is eccentric and the desserts over the top. While certainly zany, campy, and maybe even spooky to some, it is also very cozy. This place is cash only!

  • Albina Press in Portland, United States

    Image of Albina Press on Seeker
    • jajajames

      This was my local coffee shop for years and it has had some of the most recognizable Portland barista and roasters come through its doors as employees and supporters. Two employees left and started cafes of their own, Barista and Coava. Albina Press is in fact now serving Coava beans and its high standards for barista skills remain the same. This is one of the first places on the list where it really is totally acceptable to have your head glued to your laptop, plugging away at work or your next chapbook.

  • Bison Coffeehouse in Portland, United States

    Image of Bison Coffeehouse on Seeker
    • jajajames

      One of the seemingly few coffee shops (I think) that serves a variety of roasters, local and Native. Not Native as in "I am Portland Native." I think its actually pretty harmful for white folks to say that. The Portland metro area rests on traditional village sites of the Multnomah, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Chinook, Tualatin Kalapuya, Molalla and many other tribes and bands. With that being said, this is the only Native owned coffee shop in Portland. The pastries are all made in-house and are incredible, the coffee good. I felt really cared for when I was here, it is a really cozy and warm place. This space is left off a lot of "Best of" lists, perhaps because it is not in line with the design aesthetic of the other's, but it deserves to be, because it is definitely one of the best!

  • Courier Coffee in Portland, United States

    Image of Courier Coffee on Seeker
    • jajajames

      This cafe is downtown near Powell's, the famous or perhaps infamous depending on who you ask giant local bookstore of Portland. In its current iteration, Courier is an order through a window and go model, with a few tables outside to sit when the weather permits. The coffee here is consistently good and the pastries are amazing. Important note this is one of the only micro-roasters in town. I'm into that. A great place to people watch on the weekends, if you are lucky to snag a seat.

  • Never Coffee in Portland, United States

    Image of Never Coffee on Seeker
    • jajajames

      When I think of the aesthetic of this coffee shop, I feel it absolutely encapsulates the design oriented vision of many folks in the city. With its Matisse inspired vibrant murals, local handcrafted mugs, and other refined, yet playful details, it truly brings brightness to Portland in all seasons. The drinks are as creative and tasteful as the decor. There are currently two locations, both in heavily foot trafficked areas, increasing your chances of running into old and new friends.

  • Tov Coffee & Tea in Portland, United States

    Image of Tov Coffee & Tea on Seeker
    • jajajames

      This is quite possibly one of the most wonderfully unique experiences on the list, well aside from Rimsky-Korsakoffee House (we'll get there). This cafe serves Egyptian and Turkish themed treats and drinks inside a renovated double-decker bus. The espresso and coffee is thick, with that incredible sediment at the bottom you know comes from a traditional extraction process. It is a longtime treasure of SE Portland and deserves the respect that comes with that honor.