Our taste buds determine the route and this time they were screaming for coffee.

Portland has become a mecca for good tastes and lucky for us it is only a few hours away by car. Timed perfectly those three hours could be a pleasant, stop-less drive, giving Gabe and I plenty of time to talk and plan out our tasting strategy. If we miss our perfect drive-time window we bring ear plugs to mute the three passengers sitting directly behind us.

This weekend was a complete success – the drive was nearly silent thanks to naps and iPhones and the coffee did not disappoint.

We visited three coffee shops – Heart, Barista and Coava. There are so many more to try but there really is a limit to how much coffee one can drink in a day.

Our strategy was this. Across the board we ordered a macchiato. That drink, consisting of a single shot of espresso topped with a smidge of milk and a dusting of perfectly frothed foam, was the constant in our tasting. We would then get a drink that sets that particular shop apart from any other. For example if they were famous for Ethiopian Harar Longberry that was brewed with Unicorn tears (happy tears of course) then that is what we would get.

Before we get started I must apologize for that lack of detailed tasting notes. Between trying to take photos and wrangling three kidlets who had their fair share of hot chocolate as they trekked with their coffee-loving parents from place to place – I didn’t take great notes. My purpose here is to introduce you to three of the many great coffee shops that are brewing all over Portland. All of these places produce exceptional cups of freshly roasted and expertly brewed cups. The passion that is poured into each shot is savored – they take their job seriously. I find that incredibly inspiring.

So let’s get to it. We’ll start with Heart as that is where we started. Makes sense.



The kidlets enjoyed a weekend full of hot chocolate and baked goods. They are becoming quite the connoisseurs. I’m quite proud.


See the heart? Not the best I’ve seen but “A” for effort. She knew it wasn’t her best heart as she was quite disappointed.  I love that they take latte art so seriously.


This Mr. Barista was kind enough to give my brother-in-law and I a lesson on how to brew a cup of siphon. Yes, we do have that brew system at home and no, I don’t think the neighbors think it’s a coffee brewing system when they see it in our window.



Heart is one of the few shops that brew siphon (or vacuum) coffee. I’ll let Wikipedia explain because it’s a little beyond me. “A vacuum coffee maker brews coffee using two chambers where vapor pressure and vacuum produce coffee which is clean, crisp, rich and smooth compared to other brewing methods.”

I do know that it is very pleasant to drink. Very smooth with minimal residual grit or grounds that are present in a French Press brew. Nothing against French Press – it’s just different.


Someday we’ll graduate from the popcorn popper to this bad boy.


He’s so handsome.

I love that he loves coffee.

At Heart we drank –

Doppio Macchiato – Stereo Blend

Siphon – Colombia Which is described on their blog – “Flavors of pomegranate fruit, hard candy sweetness, and winey, with a clean green apple like acidity.”

I’ll tell you about Barista and Coava soon. I took far too many photos for one post.

Heart Coffee Roasters

2211 E Burnside

Portland, OR 97214

Phone: 503-206-6602


21 Responses to “Road Trip – Portland”

  1. Nooks & Cranberries

    How fun! I was in Portland over the weekend, but other than the original Stumptown (and the coffee shop inside Powell’s Books), didn’t explore the coffee scene. I did have some amazing food, however!

  2. kris

    i do hope you try coffeehouse northwest on west burnside next time you are there! it was our neighborhood favorite when we lived on that side of the river. and if you do go, it may not be coffee, but their hot chocolate is hands down one of the finest cups of hot chocolate i’ve ever experienced.

    we do love heart, and an old friend is a barista at coava- maybe he’ll be in your pictures!

  3. Brenda

    Coffee makes me sing! Thanks for sharing. We are heading down to Portland in early May. I will be sure to pay a visit to one of these shops. Looking forward to your next few posts.

  4. KathyG in WA

    Cool photos. I hadn’t heard of siphon brewed coffee. My son saw the photos and said, “I didn’t know you needed a chemistry set to make coffee!!” 🙂

  5. caryn

    we (husband and i) miss the coffee culture of the PNW and are grateful that you’ve been educating us lately on all that we’ve been missing: popcorn popper roasting at home and now siphon brewing. thanks for this post!

  6. Simone

    Coffee culture is something that is slowly getting in the Netherlands as well, but I don’t think it will get to the proportions of the US. We’re more the ‘drink coffee at home’ kind of people I guess… 🙂 I love your shots and it looks like a great place to go. I wish I had known about them when we went to Portland!

  7. Brian @ A Thought For Food

    The hubs and I are dying to come out to Portland… it’s a highly overdue trip. I’ve read so much about the coffee scene out there and, having had some good coffee out in San Fran, I can only imagine what’s being produced in Portland. Thanks for sharing this spot with us!

  8. merry jennifer

    I’m so impressed that you dragged the kids along on this trip. I’ve had a hard time incorporating them into many of our food excursions – mostly because I have no patience. Seriously. None.
    Also? I’m the only one in my house that drinks coffee. How sad is that?

  9. Gabe

    Let’s say I’m taking my wife for away from Bellingham for the weekend. What coffee shops in Seattle would you put in comparison to Heart, Barista and Coava? Great post. I always love posts that include the family.

  10. Gabe

    Hey Gabe,
    My current favorites in Seattle are Aster Coffee Lounge, Herkimer, Victrola and Stumptown (pdx based!). But my current favorites are in PDX. And we still have more than a handful of other shops down there to write about as well. -gabe


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