Here’s the Biggest News in Portland Coffee in 2017

What's in the percolator in Portland.


Since 2015—the year Stumptown sold to Peet's—Heart, Coava and Water Avenue have been in an arms race for the title of biggest name in local coffee.

Since 2015, both Heart and Water Avenue built new downtown cafes and Southeast Portland production facilities—with Heart opening yet another cafe this year in the Woodstock neighborhood. And in 2017, Coava finished its own production roasting facility and two new cafes in Portland, plus another in San Diego.

But as 2017 draws to a close, Brazilian farmer-owned roaster Nossa Familia joins those three as among the most ambitious roasters in Portland. For three years, fans have pulled their espresso from a tiny annex space in front of Nossa's original Pearl District Roastery. But this fall and winter, alongside a new espresso bar in Los Angeles, Nossa Familia will move that roastery and open three new cafes in Portland, each themed after one of the places where the roaster sources its beans.

The suddenness of this expansion is "kinda by accident," says spokeswoman Karen Lickteig. A new, Brazilian-themed Ladd's Addition location at Southeast 19th Avenue and Division Street had long been planned as Nossa's flagship cafe, patterned after a blue and white ranch building on the family farm—though it's been held up for almost a year by the requirements of opening in a historic neighborhood. That cafe's now planned to open closer to the spring of 2018.

The Pearl District move was forced by a demolition notice that the roaster's current warehouse location is to be leveled, which means Nossa Familia must vacate by the end of the year. The new space is only a block north of the old one at Northwest 13th Avenue and Lovejoy Street, and will be themed after the "cloud forest" of Nicaragua, with a jungle's worth of plants more than 10 feet in the air above the cafe counter.

This fall, Nossa will also open a new Central Eastside spot at Southeast 3rd Avenue and Clay Street next to Stacked sandwiches, in a coffee shop that will serve the many employees of the Simple bank upstairs—apparently the build-out offered an opportunity too good to pass up.

That cafe will also include a wealth of high-altitude planters, along with an array of Guatamalan-pattern tapestries.


Portland's century-old Boyd's Coffee, one of the oldest family-owned roasters in the country, was bought in August by century-old Texas coffee roaster Farmer Bros. This is part of a broader trend of consolidation in the coffee world: In the past three years, major craft pioneers Intelligentsia, Stumptown and Blue Bottle were all sold to multinational companies headquartered in Switzerland and Luxembourg.

The Boyd's sale is a little different from Stumptown's, however: At $95 million in revenue, Boyd's was pulling more than twice what Stumptown was when it was sold to Peet's Coffee. And unlike Stumptown, the production and oversight in Portland will be significantly and apparently adversely affected.

Farmer Bros. has so far not offered specifics, but in an Aug. 21 notice to stockholders, the company promised to "improve overall operational efficiency by moving the production volume associated with the acquired Boyd's business into its existing production facilities. The transition and integration of the Boyd's business is expected to take place over the next 12 to 18 months."


One of the least visible trends in Portland coffee is now having some very visible results.

At the beginning of 2016, Buckman Coffee Factory opened in a part of inner Southeast that co-owner Joey Gleason calls "roasters' row." There, Buckman offers a commissary-style roasting and green-bean storage facility designed to give small shops a chance to get in the game without dropping more than $100,000 to install their own.

Gleason came to the idea when her other venture, Marigold Coffee, outgrew its Southeast Powell Boulevard location and realized the massive outlay of expanding could be better absorbed by a communal setup. The lowered barrier to entry that Buckman offers has helped local midmarket cafes like Barista and Good Coffee break into roasting. Barista added its own line of blends and single-origin coffees to supplement its impressive curation of beans from across the country. This year, Good Coffee stopped selling beans from other roasters entirely, switching exclusively to the beans it roasts at Buckman.

(Thomas Teal)

Only about four other places in the country offer what Buckman Coffee Factory does—and one of the first is in Portland. In 2011, Mr. Green Beans coffee-roasting store began allowing small roasters like Tanager, Coco Donuts and Red E to use its 25-pound Probat roaster to make their coffee—a setup that allowed both Case Study and Happy Cup to grow before investing in their own roasters. In 2015, Mr. Green Beans' Mississippi Avenue community roaster spun off into a full-service coffee incubator called Aspect Coffee Collective in Southeast Portland. Kiosko, one of the best and brightest new cafes to open in Portland this year (see page 15), roasts its Smalltime beans in Aspect's roaster.

By as early as the end of next year, Portland will have one of the only combination beer breweries and coffee roasters in the country.

On Jan. 1, San Diego-founded Modern Times Beer will move into the Southeast Belmont Street space to be vacated by farmhouse brewery Commons Brewing on Nov. 11. Modern Times will begin brewing its own beer at the "Belmont Fermentorium" as soon as February 2018.

(Commons, Christine Dong)

Less publicized is Modern Times' coffee-roasting arm. In San Diego, Modern Times became one of the first combination brewer-roasteries in the nation in 2013—allowing beer and coffee lovers to taste a pint of Black House coffee stout alongside a cup of espresso made from Black House beans.

According to brewery CEO Jacob McKean, the company is bringing that same model to Portland. Modern Times is leasing the building next door to the Fermentorium at 630 SE Belmont St., and alongside the brewery's canning arm, the neighboring building will house a coffee roastery and cafe. The roasting operation is expected to get into full swing as soon as late 2018. In the meantime, Modern Times will sell the beans it roasts in San Diego.

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