Nigel Jaquiss, reporter
I like to walk and I like to drink coffee. From my office in Northwest Portland, it's a pleasant stroll to plenty of good coffee places: Barista, Vivace, Jim & Patty's, Dragonfly Coffee House and St. Honoré Bakery, to name just a few. So, why, every day, do I end up at Kenny & Zuke's Bagelworks at 2376 NW Thurman St., waiting for an Americano? There's no laboratory-quality glassware, no obscure beans picked by the toes of a ballerina and roasted in a ceremony by monks, and no pretension. There's just the smell of baking dough and a consistent cup built on Boyd's old-school espresso blend, as dark and strong as a pumpernickel bagel.
Sophia June, web editor
You can get a 21-ounce McDonald's coffee for a dollar—the best-tasting coffee you can get at that price without having to slurp it for free at a third-wave cupping. This is just three fewer ounces than a Starbucks "Venti," a size I've never heard a sane person order. While some coffee places list notes like they're tasting high-end wines (stonefruit, toffee, tobacco), there are no notes to speak of in McDonald's coffee, other than one: coffee. It's the smoothest brew I've ever tried, and while McDonald's consistency is usually eerie, it's exactly what you want in coffee, which is served hotter here than anywhere else—so hot, it's practically illegal! Amazon user "deb," who gave McDonald's coffee a five-star rating, agrees with me: "I like good coffee," she writes. "I've had all the common brands and roasts of coffee: Starbucks, Gevalia, Folgers, Maxwell House, etc. McCafe has them beat in my book."
Brian Panganiban, information services
IKEA coffee ($1.49, free if you're an IKEA Family member) is best appreciated as more of a condiment for one of the super-sweet dessert treats that the furniture giant serves in its cafeterias than as a standalone beverage. The burly cup of git-r-done is bracing, smoky like an old cigar and—with enough cream and sugar—a nice little throwback to every cup of hotel coffee you ever quaffed at a catered wedding reception, though technically it may be the only truly Scandinavian brew you can get in town. Either way, it's a potent tonic, one sorely needed when navigating IKEA's labyrinthine showrooms or making sense of its hieroglyphic assembly instructions.
Pete Cottell, calendar editor
7-Eleven coffee is the best worst coffee in Portland. You can always count on a 7-Eleven to be just a few blocks away, always open, awaiting your arrival with a probably fresh pot of hot liquid that tastes enough like coffee to qualify as such. I opt for the "Exclusive Blend," which has subtle notes of nuts, tree bark and nitrates from the adjacent roller-grill hot dogs. It's fine on its own, but the real treat is adding as many mini-packets of International Delight flavored creamer as your heart desires. My go-to mix is two vanilla, one Irish cream, and one white chocolate macadamia if it's a fancier location. Add some hot chocolate from the nearby "cappuccino" for a real Frankenstein treat, or at least heat up an old brew that's been left to die in the nether hours of the evening.
Matthew Korfhage, projects editor
Shari's coffee—if you're a kid in the Portland suburbs who can't drink but can drive—is what freedom tastes like. It tastes like dirty water and distant heat. It is also the flavor of boredom, and your first taste of eternity: Every cup is bottomless, and it's $2.49. You can stay there forever if you don't stack the napkin dispensers, fall asleep, or stop drinking coffee, because your constant interest in that cup of coffee is the only thing that makes you a customer. For the longest time it seemed as if every meaningful conversation I ever had was inside a Shari's hexagon, and staff at every location knew how to make the coffee just watery enough my heart didn't stop after the 12th refill. The coffee's not the same as it was then. It's better—which is sad. Shari's saw the third-wave writing on the wall and started ordering its own "premium" coffee brand, Arosta, from Alabama. It's taken at least 10 years, but I'm finally nostalgic about that stuff, too.
Martin Cizmar, arts & culture editor
For a long time, I didn't understand why the sales guys at WW were so loyal to Dutch Bros. The Bro-branded drive-thru coffee kiosks have pretty decent coffee, sure. But is it better than, like, Starbucks? That misses the whole point of the company, which was founded by the scions of a failing dairy farm back in the early '90s. The Dutch recipe isn't the sugar-happy bevs: it's the feeling of broship. "We are in the relationship business," the company proudly declares. I can attest to the sincerity of that sentiment, because I once witnessed a bro-rista attend a birthday party for one of those sales dudes. Like, at night. At a bar. If you're in a business that requires politely enduring numerous rejections, the warm smiles and boundless enthusiasm you get from the city's stoked-est service-industry employees are like oxygen. Tell them a boring story about your day and receive immediate and sincere affirmation in the form of a "Bruh, that sounds sick." Everyone needs that sometimes.