“You know a macchiato is a small espresso drink, right?” The cashier told me almost hesitantly.
I was at Stumptown Coffee in downtown Portland on 3rd street and had just ordered a macchiato. The cashier asked me the question about without being the least bit rude. From the way she approached the question, I could tell that this had been an issue before, with someone ordering a macchiato and not realizing that, officially, a macchiato has no resemblance whatsoever to the drink that Starbucks calls a macchiato.
Fortunately, I knew that.
“Yeah, no worries,” I said with a smile. Because of the coffee shop’s location to Voodoo Doughnuts, a tourist destination, I figured they probably got more than their fair share of folks who may not know the nuances of coffee and were just looking to score a quick drink, not realizing that Stumptown is the genuine third wave coffee deal*.
In fact, Stumptown is only one of the many places that one can go to for great coffee in Portland. The conversation above happened my first time in Portland a couple of months ago. For some reason, I never wrote about all the coffee I consumed (I still don’t quite understand how/why I didn’t write about it). Last week, I went to Portland for work (tacking on a few days to hit up the comic convention) so figured this was a good time as any to talk about Portland coffee.
So here’s the deal: The Portland coffee scene is pretty awesome. It already has a reputation of being really great and it’s definitely a well deserved rep.
The thing is, I live in the Bay Area and there is already a lot of great coffee and roasters here. I shouldn’t be impressed with Portland! And yet, the Portland coffee scene just seemed so much more… accessible (?) to me. I don’t know exactly why the Portland coffee scene came off pretty well. I pondered this with my coffee buddy, who offered up other adjectives to describe how be both felt about Portland coffee – unassuming, non-pretensy (I’m pretty sure that’s a word). I concurred.
Not to get all Disney on y’all, but there really is something magical going on with Portland. Yes, it was cold this time around and I had to wear gloves and a (Superman) beanie over my hijab. But I was just so transfixed with the city. Maybe it was all of the coffee. It could also be the public transportation – it’s so simple! 5 bucks a day to use any mode of public transportation! 26 for a week! – and I kinda loved the fog that engulfed the city this time around. Brunch is huge there too. Who doesn’t love waiting 1.5 hours for french toast until a table clears up at a popular brunch spot?
Here are a few of the coffee places I got to check out over my two visits and definitely feel comfortable recommending them all:
I’ll admit, I followed the list of places that the good folks at the Caffeine Crawl had lined up for their crawl in Portland.
So, Portland. Gotta make my way back sometime. I definitely recommend checking out the city if you can, especially if you really like coffee.
*I happened to go on Yelp after that conversation and saw a bad review of Stumptown where someone complained about ordering a macchiato and getting a small drink. It was kind of hilarious.