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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

My Coffee Tour of Portland - Part 1

I live in Portland and we love our coffee. Now, we aren't Seattle, but we have taken coffee culture and run with it. Not only are there a million Starbucks in our city, but even more independent shops adding their own flavor to your favorite brew. While here, you may find yourself stuck behind that annoying person who orders the quad grande skim caramel macchiato upside down, extra hot and makes you want to gouge out your own eyes, but you can also find the hard core traditional coffee enthusiasts too. 

portland coffee tour

I'm not one to order something super fancy. I mean, I like a chai tea latte or something with vanilla, but if even I can't remember your coffee order, then it's too much. Even though I'm in the heart of a coffee mecca, I find myself hitting up the same shops over and over. There's nothing wrong with Dutch Bros. In fact, I enjoy the drive thru when I'm on the go and the friendly employees, but there's a lot more to Portland than just quick coffee kiosks, so my plan is to hit as many of the best as possible and bring them to you,so you can go on your own coffee tour while you're in town. I hope to bring you 3+ reviews each month. I have 4 for you for the month of March.





Public Domain Coffee

This was going to be my second stop of the day, but my first choice (Spella) was so small and had no inside seating or food choices and it was straight up miserable outside that I decided to skip over it in favor of a place where I could sit down and enjoy my coffee. Public Domain is warm and inviting and the coffee is the main attraction, though they have pastries and other foods to keep you happy. I ordered a small vanilla latte and a banana chocolate muffin ($7.25 total). My coffee was topped with a lovely heart and was so rich that it was satisfying as just one small cup, making me feel like I didn't need another cup that day (in a good way). It needed no sugar, like I've found many coffees do and was just bitter enough for my tastes. The muffin was clearly handmade there and rivaled some of my own homemade banana bread.





Solace & Fine Espresso

Well, it was another rainy day in Portland, but this cute little shop was just a couple miles from home, so I didn't have to park and walk in the rain. Technically, this shop isn't in Portland, but in Beaverton, but I'd read some great reviews. I couldn't pass it up. Solace advertises coffee with yoga on Saturdays, but I'm not into that, so I visited on a late Friday morning when there were only a few others there. I ordered a cafe au lait and a bagel breakfast sandwich with egg, cheese and bacon ($8 total) and both were made  with care. A packet of sugar in my cup and I was good to go. Both the coffee and the sandwich were fantastic, plus the shop has some wonderful homey touches and offers a new artist's work for sale each month, so you get a mini gallery viewing as well. I'm a little sad it took me so long to visit this local place, because it's definitely a neighborhood gem.





Water Avenue Coffee

I've been hearing great things about Water Avenue for a while and since it's just down the street from OMSI and Eric's work, I offered to drop him at work in exchange for a coffee date, seeing as how we were going for dinner after work and taking two cars makes no sense. The "must have" drink here is the s'mores mocha, so we knew one of us needed to order that. The mocha is served with a chocolate graham cracker and a hand-torched marshmallow. It took two people to make it and the marshmallowy flavor was really smooth and delicious. I ordered the honey latte, because this is the first place I've seen one. Water Avenue uses local Bee Local honey and it's perfectly sweet and bitter. I loved it to start the day. 




The food here is a whole story on its own. I ordered a breakfast sandwich, which was an English muffin with locally-sourced eggs, cheese and arugula. It didn't even need salt added to it, which surprised me. Yum! Eric chose their toast with butter and honey. Again, the butter and honey is area-made. He was happy with his choices. Now, I'm not going to tell you that Water Avenue is cheap, because it is a bit above board when it comes to pricing. My latte was $6 and my sandwich was another $6. We had a coupon from a friend that gave us a free drink, so our four items came to $17, but it was worth the extra money, simply because the taste was superior and the ingredients are local, and I'm looking forward to returning, maybe for lunch.




Coava Coffee

So, I've been told several times that this is a Portland landmark for coffee lovers. I visited immediately after my Water Avenue experience and found it quite the opposite feel. Where Water Avenue was cozy and friendly, Coava's flagship location (they only have two) is located in a warehouse and feels quite impersonal. They have items for sale from local artists, which is cool, but walking in, I felt eyes on me and didn't feel as if this was the place for me, but rather a more Portland hipster coffee joint. The menu is small, which only a handful of traditional coffee drinks on it. 





If you want no-frills coffee drinks, this is the place to go. I tried to order a vanilla latte and was told they only had honey (the same Bee Local that Water Avenue uses) or simple syrup. I, instead, ordered a cappuccino and one of the ham and gruyere croissants from Little T Baker to go. My total came to $8, which was more in line with other coffee shops. The cappuccino was good, but not "go out of your way" good. The star was definitely the pastry, which was light and fluffy, but crispy on the outside with a slightly pretzel flavor. I'd return for that, though I'm sure the selections may vary, as they get a variety of pastries from two  local bakeries to sell in their little case.

So, I've found a new favorite coffee shop that is convenient for when I'm in SE Portland and another for when I'm close to home, and I'm looking forward to more stops on my tour. If you want to follow my visits (and my travels in general), follow me on Instagram.

If you've been to Portland and found an awesome coffee shop I should add to my list? Or have a favorite drink to order?
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