Coffee Guide: Hallowed Ground

9 Neighborhood Coffee Shops We Love

No matter your quadrant, the best coffeehouse is the one closest to you.

By Fiona McCann, Rebecca Jacobson, Kelly Clarke, Ramona DeNies, Zach Dundas, Marty Patail, Margaret Seiler, and Benjamin Tepler February 20, 2017 Published in the March 2017 issue of Portland Monthly

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Bison Coffeehouse's token bison

Albina Press

Portland’s barista fetish owes more than a little to Billy Wilson, who elevated espresso pulling to vertiginous heights when he opened Albina Press with Kevin Fuller in 2004. He left four years later to start Barista, but his original launchpad still takes coffee seriously. Expect good crema and fine zucchini bread attracting the usual balance of North PDX regulars slinging screenplays and babies, and time-rich members of the MacBook professional class. —FM

Bipartisan Café

The mission at this decade-old, well-scuffed Montavilla café is togetherness. Real, substantive conversations bubble between real, live human beings; framed political posters crowd the walls (JFK and Geronimo get cozy with portraits of Harriet Tubman and MLK); and monster slabs of pie beg to be shared on one of the overstuffed couches. Add a cup of quality Water Avenue coffee, and it’s clear: in these divided times, Bipartisan could be just the place to unite us. —RJ

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Bison Coffeehouse owner Loretta Guzman

Bison Coffeehouse

While you wait for a perfect latte or from-scratch ricotta cake at Loretta Guzman’s café, you can’t avoid eye contact with the bison, whose woolly head and sharp horns lord over deerhide-backed chairs and roomy tables. It’s a tip-off that what is perhaps the city’s only Native American–owned coffee shop holds a rich vein of heritage. With its Native art and frequent community events, a visit on any random day can serve as a bit of an education. —KC

Coffeehouse Northwest

Part of the draw at this West Burnside standby is its musty hold on Old, Old Portland: Jacobethan brick, elegant transom windows, and 1908 fir flooring warped with age. Order a Sterling Roasters cup at the counter and nab the sweet spot by the Bakeshop-filled glass jars. From here, watch everything on high: your barista quietly caffeinating Alphabet District regulars and the bustle of Burnside traffic dissolving into downtown. —RD


When this bright bulb of a shop first winked on in 2006, it helped herald a stretch of NE Killingsworth now locked in a perpetual food-and-drink gentrification. Today, a cheerful robin’s-egg-blue La Marzocco machine sits next to the open roasting station, where serious-faced technicians live the artisanal dream. Mismatched antique tables fill with Apple-tapping youth and earnest conversation. Once a harbinger of the new, Extracto has matured into a reliable place to check Portland’s pulse. —ZD

Jola Café

Cut off from downtown by a spaghetti mess of freeways, hills, and one-way streets, this bright, five-year-old space caters to its Southwest Portland hood’s slow, convivial pace. Groups fill the café’s two connected rooms with buzzy chatter, while baristas pour perfect Americanos and dress up thick slabs of toast with Nutella, strawberry jam, or lox. Chances are, if you stay long enough, you’ll probably end up ordering one of the mimosas. —MP


Kenton’s eight-year-old Posies started out as a kid mecca, siding its Ristretto coffee with regular music and puppet shows. There’s still a playroom and PB&J on the menu, but these days the sunlit space is a neighborhood anchor for all ages. Sturdy tables by the long wall bench make an easy spot to spread out with your laptop or the house copy of the Oregonian or New York Times—MS

Red E Café

This chilled-out, airy shop’s balance of bohemia and refinement feels well tuned to this stretch of North Killingsworth, with its mix of hipster bars and no-frills Asian and halal grocery stores. Soaring walls break Portland coffee shop convention by featuring art that’s actually good. (Striking pop art by painter Michael Kadera recently juxtaposed Mighty Mouse and Saddam Hussein.) The baked-goods case is a bit bare, but the macchiato is definitive. —ZD

Upper Left Roasters

In just two years, this former dive bar has transformed into a Hosford-Abernethy hub, with a Scandinavian-inspired room that mimics the angles of Ladd’s Addition. Upper Left roasts fine espresso and pours clever maple-turmeric lattes, but the real find here is the toast. Try the Turkish, cumin-stained eggs with garlic yogurt over thick Philippe’s Bread. —BT

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