A Coffee Retrospective

2016-04-01 10.51.28Back in March, I was inspired by Manton’s Austin coffee quest and decided to try my own “30 Days of Coffee.” Starting on April 1 and continuing for 30 straight days, I would experience a new cafe or coffee shop that I had never visited before. The rules I set for myself were fairly simple:

  1. I must visit a coffee shop each day for 30 days.
  2. I can not have had coffee there previously.
  3. The coffee shop must reside within the boundaries of N/NE Portland. (I did this so that I could somewhat mimic Manton’s challenge given the plethora of coffee shops in Portland vs. Austin.)
  4. In order to count as a “coffee shop” it must serve lattes (my drink of choice)

I have now completed my 30 days, and I have to tell you that despite sounding easy, it’s actually quite difficult to do ANYTHING for 30 days straight. There were more than a few times that Tiffany had to remind me that I hadn’t made my daily trip (especially difficult since most non-chain coffee shops close at 4 p.m.)

Along the way, I documented each visit on my microblog which you can find here. I also snapped a picture of each location that hopefully gave a small glimpse into the ambiance of each.

This entire endeavor was an experiment in a number of areas, and I can honestly say that I learned a little bit about myself along the way. As I mentioned, I was microblogging the adventure and somehow ended up having a number of people who followed along. A few have even asked for a summary/recommendation list, to which I am more than happy to oblige.

The following is my list of coffee shops that I would gladly return to again. The rankings are relative to me, which means that it’s based on a blend of coffee quality, ambiance, location and overall comfort (including my ability to work remotely). This is simply a ranked list out of the 30 that I visited, not my overall list for Portland. In fact, I think only one of these would crack my Portland top 10 list.

So, with all of these caveats out of the way, here is my ordered list of places that I would gladly revisit:

  1. Blend Coffee – I cannot say enough good things about this place. From the cleanliness to the thoughtfulness of the seating to the ridiculous number of power outlets, everything about this place is well thought out. I only wish it was closer to my home. That being said, this is the only coffee shop on my list that I would go out of my way to visit. If you haven’t been here, I absolutely recommend a visit.
  2. Bassotto – This place was an absolute gem of a find because it’s actually a fantastic coffee shop disguised as a gelateria. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s located next door to the amazing Tamale Boy, but I think I’d come back even if it was located elsewhere. Finding Bassotto was one of the reasons that I did this challenge. It allowed me to find an awesome place that I normally wouldn’t have tried on my own.
  3. Prince Coffee – This place is SMALL. It’s also very new and in the beautiful Kenton neighborhood. I will revisit this place if for nothing else than their homemade stroopwafels.
  4. Miss Zumstein – This location is very comfortable, but their pastries are wonderful. The staff is friendly, and they have great coffee, but man are those pastries good.
  5. Locale Coffee – This is another of the new-wave Portland coffee shops located in the Mississippi neighborhood. I would definitely go back to it again, but there’s nothing particularly special about it. If you’re looking for a decent place to meet someone for coffee and you need to be near Mississippi, you can’t really go wrong here.
  6. Saint Simon – This is yet another stereotypical new-wave Portland coffee shop. It has good coffee, is nice inside, has a good location, but is a little too “trendy” for my taste. Think I’m exaggerating? Everything from the moose head on the wall to the forced industrial look to the “wood block” seating just screams Portlandia. I’d definitely take coffee from here again, but I probably wouldn’t stay for long.
  7. Seven Virtues – I didn’t want to like Seven Virtues because I find the entire Zipper building to be somewhat pretentious and annoying, but I have to admit that it was pretty nice inside and they had good coffee to boot. I’ve heard from at least one person that they went here right after it opened and were very unhappy with their experience. Perhaps they had some initial issues getting going?
  8. Posie’s Cafe – I’m not sure if I liked Posie’s based on its own merits or because it’s located in the Kenton neighborhood. Regardless, I found it to be very charming and a nice place to pop into if you’re looking for a quick caffeine pick me up. They had a lot of seating and had some pretty good looking pastries as well.

And that is it. Out of 30, I would revisit 8. Of the 8, only one of them would crack my top Portland Coffee Shops list. (I’ll try to put that together soon as well.)

As I mentioned, the challenge was more difficult than I expected given how often I go to coffee. In fact, I’ve started thinking differently about 30 day challenges in general and I have a few more I might try in the next few months. If you’d like to see the entire list of 30, I’ve included it below. You can also find my posts on Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #pdxcoffeehunt.

  1. Cathedral Coffee – 7530 N Willamette Blvd
  2. TwentySix Cafe – NE 7th Ave
  3. Miss Zumstein – 5027 NE 42nd Ave.
  4. Saint Simon Coffee – 2005 NE Broadway
  5. Tiny’s Coffee2031 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
  6. Fillmore Coffee – 7201 NE Glisan St
  7. Prince Coffee – 2030 N Willis Blvd
  8. Bison Coffee House – 3941 NE Cully Blvd
  9. Seven Virtues – 2705 NE Sandy Blvd
  10. Batter – 4425 NE Fremont St
  11. Kopi – 2327 E Burnside St
  12. Locale – 4330 N Mississippi Ave
  13. The Fresh Pot – 4001 N Mississippi Ave
  14. Goldrush – 2601 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
  15. Bassotto – 1760 NE Dekum
  16. Spielman Bagels – 2200 NE Broadway St
  17. Wholesome Blend – 4615 NE Sandy Blvd
  18. Cup & Bar – 118 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
  19. Heart Coffee Roasters – 2211 E Burnside St
  20. Blend Coffee Lounge – 2710 N Killingsworth St
  21. Cafe Eleven – 435 NE Rosa Parks Way
  22. The Arbor Lodge – 1507 N Rosa Parks Way
  23. Whole Foods Coffee Shop
  24. Extracto – 1465 NE Prescott St
  25. Coffee People – Portland Airport
  26. J Cafe – 533 NE Holladay St
  27. Coffee House Five – 740 N Killingsworth St
  28. Case Study – 1422 NE Alberta
  29. Posie’s Cafe – 8208 N Denver Ave
  30. Elevated Coffee – 5261 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd



2 thoughts on “A Coffee Retrospective

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