The rest of America may run on Dunkin’, but Portland is powered by Mudd Works’ natural-process aged Sumatran. Not just that: We’re also fueled by Cycle Town beans that are darkened and flavored in an environmentally friendly air roaster, and recharged by Fetch coffees in a variety of giddy flavors made with beans roasted in a seriously impressive, custom-made San Franciscan SF-25, just to name a few.
Let’s face it, we’re all going to pop into a Starbucks out of convenience now and again. But it’s clear that our city is filled with coffee consumers who demand more. These sippers are passionate about the quality and diversity of their single-origin beans and espressos. The sheer number of businesses around town roasting their own beans is testament to that: While researching this issue, we counted well over three dozen.
In the following pages, we focus on the 11 where you can enjoy a cup while sitting practically right next to the equipment that caramelizes the beans.
Some of those machines are the centerpieces of their cafes—like Mudd Works’ 10-kilo, manually operated roaster from France or the previously mentioned device at Fetch, which is so stunning it wouldn’t be out of place at a museum. Others are smaller workhorses that you might not be able to see, but their scents or sounds give away their presence. And at least one we discovered is reserved for special occasions, like roasting beans for entry in prestigious competitions.
After you’ve worked your way through our guide to Portland’s cafe-roaster combos, you’ll find a few tips on how to make quality coffee at home. We talked with the local authors and co-founders of Sprudge—an online resource for all things coffee. The duo offer advice from their new book, But First, Coffee: A Guide to Brewing From the Kitchen to the Bar. As motivation to put their words to good use, we’ve included the authors’ recipe for a Mock-Lato.
Portland has no shortage of companies roasting beans, serving coffee, or both, so we hope you’ll use this guide to track down something a little different for your next caffeine fix. Or go ahead and get ambitious and try playing barista at home. Either option should provide a little warmth and mood boost to start the day—and the year—with a locally roasted jolt.
—Andi Prewitt, WW Arts & Culture Editor
Roast of 2024