Coffee and weed: they rule. It's a pairing that goes back to the early days of coffeehouse culture in this country, from the beatniks in the '50s to the Berkeley hippies hanging out at the original Peet's Coffee in the late '60s. Today it's not uncommon for baristas to receive a sweet nug or pre-roll in the tip jar, and they're more than happy to return the favor with delicious drinks that play nicely with various buds and extracts.
Portland is one of the few places in the world where you can legally do this, with coffee bars and dispensaries chilling out in just about every neighborhood. Here are four ways to pair coffee and weed across the city without having to get in your car.
A chill little Kerns pairing starts at Alma Chocolate (140 NE 28th Ave., 503-517-0262, almachocolate.com), which sells the most chocolate-forward mocha in Portland. It combines Alma's dark drinking chocolate with a deep, limbic-system hit from the Spella espresso base. It is a real treat.
Then wander your happy ass a few blocks to TreeHouse Collective (2419 NE Sandy Blvd., 503-894-8774, pdxtreehouse.com), which is probably my favorite shop on Sandy's Wacky Tobacky Road stretching eastward to the Grotto. As recommended by the shop folks, pick up a half-gram pre-roll of Orange Cookies. This hybrid of Orange Juice and Girl Scout Cookies makes for a subtly obvious pairing choice, with citrus flavors in the terpenes that play nicely with that velvety chocolate mocha. The result is a nice uplift from the J and a pleasing Christmas candy-orange linger on the ol' taste buds.
Although the espresso at Heart Coffee Roasters (2211 E Burnside St., 503-206-6602, heartroasters.com) is delicious—you can drink it as a single-origin, bigger-volume shot or a more classically proportioned two-bean blend—the best drink on Heart's menu is whatever's on the batch brewer that day. The daily rotating filter coffee is a clinic on how good coffee can taste in 2016, a rainbow of flavors from origins around the world, as distinct from one cup to the next as any beer or wine tasting. Your cup of filter will get better over the course of a half-hour, as it cools and mellows.
So too goes Frank's Gift, available a few blocks away in Buckman at Botanica PDX (128 SE 12th Ave., 503-462-7220, botanicapdx.com). The deeply chill strain clocks in just shy of 15 percent CBD for a calm, cerebral high that has just enough uplift from its 7.8 percent THC. It's the perfect progressive coffee-bar weed. Like the La Croix and poke bowl combo at Poke Mon, the pairing is peak Portland 2016.
Elbe's Edibles has been baking since 2010, and it topped WW's readers' poll in 2015. Elbe's classic butter-based oatmeal cookie is simple, familiar and delicious—packing 15 milligrams of THC into its very last crumb. This is an edible you will feel.
Either/Or owner Ro Tam's signature drinks and Tanglewood chai are the best in town, and each fall she rolls out a seasonal special like Hot Buttered Yam, made from Tam's drink base of garnet yams, black tea, bourbon and maple, steamed up with milk. The yummy, warm but not-too-sweet beverage will hook up with that edible in your belly. You'll feel all nice and tingly, and the flavor combo is totes fall.
Andrea Spella has been digging deep into the Italian espresso tradition for a decade at his downtown cafe, and even longer before that at the original Spella cart. But here's the thing: Italian espresso is just one small part of the wider palate in Italy. When I traveled there in my 20s, I was a half-pack-a-day smoker, in a country where that rate of consumption made me a casual dabbler.
Like WW contributor Wm. Willard Greene before me, I quit smoking tobacco at the onset of fatherhood, so the best I have now are ciggie substitutes like Pachecos, made by Eco Farma Farms in Canby and sold at both Serra dispensaries in Portland (2519 SE Belmont St., 971-544-7055; 220 SW 1st Ave., 971-279-5613; shopserra.com).
It looks like a cigarette and lights up like a cigarette—but brother, that's no cigarette. The brand offers four styles of filtered pre-rolls, from the high-THC Hammerhead to the mellow, CBD-forward Keen blend. Pachecos even come in a cool little pack; the whole thing gives me feelings I'm not entirely comfortable discussing here.
But pair it with an espresso shot from Spella Caffe (520 SW 5th Ave., 503-752-0264 spellacaffe.com), maybe with a little stirred in sugar, and you're in some weed-smokin' version of Milan. The connection between the two, the smoke and the espresso, is oddly primal and works on some deeper level. I'm not saying you have to smoke cigarettes to dig this espresso, but goddamn if that familiar tug of smoke through the filter doesn't magnify the sprezzatura.