We can argue about which is the best season to be in Oregon, but most would agree that our summers are pretty tough to beat. With gobs of sunshine, long days, cool nights, fresh berries, an arsenal of frozen treat options, and summer bounty like tomatoes and peaches on the not-too-distant horizon, this is the best time of year to be in Oregon. Locals tend not to leave in July and August, because why would you leave a situation that is perfect?
Summer, when it finally arrives, feels nothing like the other seasons, but more like a physical place to which we return–one that’s familiar and nostalgic. We look forward to it all year. And when it’s finally here, it’s the time of year when we seem to forget about time. There’s so little to long for during summer, and that’s why summer goes by so fast. One minute we’re complaining about the rain and the next we’re stuffing our faces with blackberries. And for record, by August blackberries will be everywhere, and the best patches (like Firelane 4 in Forest Park which boasts a continual blackberry patch that is about a half mile long–Not joking. Go check it out. Lower Saltzman entrance. Wear comfortable shoes. You’ll thank me.) won’t cost you a penny to enjoy. Savor it people.
May we all commit to having a great summer, limiting our screen time, supporting local business, breathing the good air, and enjoying this incredible experience of living on a gorgeous planet that’s floating around the fucking universe during an Oregon summer. Pardon my French, but sometimes a well-placed f-bomb makes a good point. Life is never perfect. And while we should strive to make it better for all, there is always a lot to appreciate.
And speaking of the good life, a city’s number of great coffee shops is commensurate with a city’s quality of life. (Duh!) So for this edition of the Feast newsletter, our friend Gio Fillari takes us on a journey through some of Portland’s most one-of-a-kind coffee shops.
Love where you live.
Mike Thelin, Co-Founder, Feast
Giovanni Fillari is Brand Marketing Specialist at Nike and the publisher of @coffeefeedpdx.
Portland’s Coffee Scene Is Better Than You Think
By Gio Fillari
The coffee scene in Portland is so special right now, and this is something I tell people all the time: wherever I travel and however they might be as coffee drinkers—casual or serious. For starters, the sheer amount of cafés here in Portland helps set us apart. There’s so many high quality coffee shops, many within a few blocks of each other, and the competition (or cannibalism) hasn’t happened here like it has in places like San Francisco or LA. Because Portland is able to support so many coffee shops, this has helped our city to develop and sustain a coffee scene that defies expectations. You can literally walk around just about every neighborhood and stumble into shops doing coffee at a very high level—and that’s something special about Portland coffee.
Sometimes my friends outside of Portland believe our city is full of coffee snobs who claim we’re the best coffee city in the world. While it’s true there’s a lot of pride, which can definitely be intimidating, there are also coffee shops free of snobbery doing coffee at a very high level–with multiple cultures represented. These are places where you can feel comfortable asking questions and learning about the distinct culture at each spot.
Cafes like this take a coffee lover on a journey, and Portland is home to some really great spots that feel like this. Here’s a few I like recommending to anyone looking for a delicious cup of coffee, and maybe something good to eat too (A lot of our cafes here have great food—it’s a Portland thing).
When it opened in early 2022, Concourse Coffee—from the team behind Portland’s nationally famous Deadstock Coffee—became pretty quickly the ultimate gathering place, the clubhouse, the place to meet people who are moving the culture here in Portland and beyond. Content creators, casual coffee drinkers, hardcore coffee fans, creatives, agency people, Nike people, Adidas people, and pretty much anybody looking to take a meeting or get some work done over a good cup of coffee—that’s who comes here. It’s also become a major place where events take place, with all kinds of night time takeovers and activations happening here in its first six months of business. This is a place where culture happens; It just has that vibe, and it’s filled with high-energy people at all times.
The go-to drink here is called the LeBronald Palmer, which is a blend of sweet tea and cold brew mixed with lemonade. This drink originally appeared at Deadstock Coffee, and has become the most iconic Portland coffee drink of the last decade. People come from all over the world to drink it, and take photos with it. I like visiting Concourse early in the day to get some work done, and no matter when I come, I end up meeting up with cool people and getting into conversations. It’s also a really fun way to kick off Saturday mornings.
Portland Cà Phê @portlandcaphe
I wrote an in-depth piece about Portland Cà Phê for Sprudge when it opened back in 2021—it was one of the best new coffee bars to open in Portland last year. The spot is Vietnamese-owned, and founder Kimberly Dam started it during the pandemic as a way to tap back into the roots of her family, who own a longtime Portland institution called The House of Banh Mi. Kimberly wanted to have the opportunity to share Vietnamese coffee culture by creating a coffee shop that would have great food, use traditional methods like the Vietnamese phin brewer, but also execute coffee at a very high level that specialty coffee drinkers would appreciate. She’s been able to bridge between casual consumers and hardcore coffee lovers when it comes to showing them what Vietnamese coffee culture is all about. But you can also order something like a twelve ounce latte and it will be done right.
The food here is really, really good—I’m a big fan of their macaroons, and of course you can’t mess with the sandwiches. The best time to go is over lunch so you can pair food with Vietnamese coffee and try a couple of different things. Definitely take your time here, and enjoy Kimberly Dam’s expression of Vietnamese coffee culture in Portland.
Good Coffee @goodcoffeepnw
With multiple locations across the city and a roastworks café in Troutdale, picking your favorite Good Coffee location is a matter of personal taste. For me, I really think the Slabtown location is my favorite—it has a sense of community to it, and feels like it’s become a sort of living room for a neighborhood that’s grown so much over the last few years. Slabtown is where Nike’s corporate housing is located, and there’s a ton of other companies based around there, with offices for Adidas, Intel, Vacasa, and multiple design agencies. This gives the café a ton of creative energy. On nice days, it’s almost like a picnic park atmosphere when the sun is out, as the café opens up the garage style doors and offers a walk-up experience.
They do a great job with tea at all the Good Coffee locations, and the smoked cardamom tea latte is especially good. I also enjoy their maple and smoked orange latte (ask for it off menu), as well as the tamarind and date soda and citrus blossom matcha soda. I will also say that honestly Good is very good with their coffee roasting program in-house—shit is good! Go in the morning, hang out and enjoy some people watching, and don’t be in a rush if the weather is nice.
Less and More @lessandmorecoffee
This is the newest café on our list, and comes from local coffee entrepreneur Joey Wang, who also owns Super Joy Coffee. Less and More is such a unique space—it’s a little standing-room-only stand in Downtown, not much more than a kiosk. It looks like something out of an old movie, or how you might imagine a busy newspaper stand would feel in the modern day. It gives big city major metropolis vibes in a way few other places do here in Portland, and I just love that about it.
The coffee here is very high quality, even though there’s no seating, and everything is served to go. The must-order is probably the black sesame latte, or the maple oat latte, but they also have an outstanding purple ube latte that might be the city’s best version of the popular drink. If you’ve been looking for a cool excuse to go downtown, or you’re looking for great coffee before heading to the PSU Farmers Market, Less and More is pretty much the perfect stop, and there’s nothing else quite like it anywhere else in Portland. This place is special.
Here’s where we’re Feasting this week…
The city’s food media and social media intercircular axis descended upon the all-new Tanaka this week, around which the buzz is enormous, for Japanese breakfast bites and hearty sandos (the ikura bruschetta is an early standout)…The Feast content team enjoyed an outstanding and lengthy dinner at Kachka, packed on a Tuesday night with locals and out-of-towners, with plentiful vodka and delightful zakuski…morning after recriminations from said Kachka dinner were quelled by a sausage egg and cheese sandwich from Lottie & Zula’s, the city’s benchmark East Coast transplant breakfast sandwich…although some (ahem cough Mike Thelin) claim that Dimo’s is in fact a contender for breakfast sandwich of the moment, so clearly further research is required…there’s a Monterey squid and duck egg special on now at Hat Yai’s Killingsworth location that is very much worth your time…Portland has never suffered in the fermentation department, but two purveyors are currently stinking up my refrigerator with great burbling verve: Fermenter, the all-vegan-everything shop on SE Belmont, home to great sauerkraut (I hope they don’t mind if I put it on my burger), and Sue Chef Kimchi, an outstanding delivery-only kimchi program (with limited retail) whose seasonal offering right now is an outrageously good papaya and pineapple number. ‘Nuff said…speaking of kimchi, it’s the Fourth of July next week, which means it’s time to head over to Otto’s Sausage Kitchen and buy a dozen or so of their trapped-in-amber-unchanged-for-one-hundred-years perfect unstoppable classic hot dogs, the finest dog in all the land for my money, upon which I intend to slather Duke’s Mayo, good kimchi, and a dab of Sriracha…last but certainly not least, this might mark me as hopelessly uncool but fuck it—I ate a profoundly pleasurable Crab Louie salad last week at Salty’s on the river, where the sun was shining, the iced tea was plentiful, and there was even a tablecloth and everything… all dispatches formatted for the curious and hungry, please report tips to email@example.com