Holiday lattes are typically too sweet, too forced, too dorky, and hideously commercial. But even the strong-willed among us can be pulled to the dark side. The quality-obsessed crew at Coffeehouse Northwest on West Burnside turned me, one of Portland’s last hold-outs, with a surprising holiday menu, five drinks strong, and running from caramel cider to a smoky maple-rosemary latte. The store’s fresh-roasted beans, in-house infusions, and careful attention to flavor all factor into the formula.
Coffeehouse Northwest’s holiday drink menu runs through the end of the year. And note: the same menu is served at nearby sister shop, Sterling Coffee Roasters on NW 21st, also one of the Portland’s gems.
Four reasons to head to Coffeehouse Northwest
Eggnog latte: I’m still shaking my head over how soothingly delicious this is, like some voodoo curse fell over me. House secrets: Good-quality, local Sunshine Dairy eggnog, a smart thinning of milk, good house espresso, and a few measured shakes of cinnamon.
Peppermint mocha: Coffeehouse (and Sterling) are Portland’s mocha masters, whirling creamy luxury with a custom blend from the great local chocolate shop, Cacao. You can choose dark or milk chocolate. I always go dark chocolate mocha—it’s less sweet but bigger and rounder, and the peppermint notes ping just right in the background.
Mini pecan pies and brownies from Bakeshop: Coffeehouse and Sterling recently commissioned the stand-out NE Portland bakery to make two small pastries for nibblers: a pecan pie-meets-shortbread brainstorm, sporting liquor-soaked raisins and salted nuts, and a decadent baby brownie holding vanilla bean salted caramel and Woodblock Chocolate pieces.
Thanksgiving day “drinks on the house, pay what you like” charity event. It’s now an annual event: Coffeehouse owners Adam McGovern and Aric Miller and their barista posse (in natty threads and formal dresses) prepare four hours of drinks and snacks on the house to raise money for charity. Pay only what you want to donate. All money and tips go to this year’s cause, Homeless Youth Law Clinic, which offers legal help to disadvantaged kids and teens living in poverty. Visit from 8 am to noon at Coffeehouse Northwest.
1950 W Burnside Street
Weekdays 6:30am-6pm, Weekends 8am-5pm
Thanksgiving, 8 am-noon
Sterling Coffee Roasters
417 NW 21st Ave
Weekdays 6am-4pm, Weekends 8am-4pm