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July 4th, 2012 KIMBERLY HURSH | Food Reviews & Stories
 

Totally Grounded

Put down the Chemex—students need cream, sugar and fast Wi-fi.

tw_coffee_3835ILLUSTRATION: Angie Wang
     
Tags: coffee
Heart Coffee at East Burnside and 22nd Avenue knows its product. The baristas could write a book about beans extracted from Kenya and Ethiopia and roasted on site. They can talk for days about the subtle notes of cocoa and citrus.

But if you’re looking for a quick caffeine buzz and a nice place to study, you’ll find it a few doors down at Green Beans. For students (the core customers of many coffee shops), finding the perfect spot involves some basic questions. How fast is the Internet connection? Is the mocha sweet? Are there cheap snacks? Can you hear your study partner explaining that proof? Most important, can you sit for hours without being hassled?

Heart’s trendy decor feels a little cold, while Green Beans’ shabby style doesn’t intimidate. Heart’s chrome roaster might look impressive, but the constant grind makes studying frustrating. The flavors are complex, but most young people aren’t looking for herbal undertones, they’re looking for java flavor in their liquefied sugar. We went to 10 spots to find the best places for caffeine-craving students rather than coffee snobs. 


Anna Bannanas, St. Johns

Anna Bannanas, a University of Portland hangout, is like an extension of a cluttered dorm room. A private, quiet back room and ample electrical outlets make for a decent study space, though lighting is dim. Its sizable selection of cheap eats and sugary drinks will tide you over until the campus cafeteria opens
Mocha: Sticky sweet ($3.60).
Refills: Half the price of the original drink.
Wi-Fi speed: 2,849 kbps.
8716 N Lombard St. 6:30 am-10 pm Monday-Thursday, 6:30 am-11 pm Friday, 7:30 am-11 pm Saturday, 7:30 am-10 pm Sunday.

Blue Kangaroo, Sellwood-Moreland
Customer-made dollar-bill origami on the cash register and compost bins gives Blue Kangaroo more quirk than Starbucks, but you’ll still find a similar “working parent” crowd. A food-cart pod across the street makes up for the small menu. Best for solo study sessions, not groups.
Mocha: Spicy ($3.75).
Refills: Free on house coffee.
Wi-Fi speed: 10,325 kbps. 7901 SE 13th Ave. 6:30 am-6 pm Monday-Friday, 7 am-6 pm Saturday-Sunday.

Aliviar, Hollywood 
Recently relocated Aliviar still has bare walls and stiff couches. The latte art didn’t quite make up for the slow service, and the food menu is small, though there’s popcorn next door at the Hollywood Theatre. 
Mocha: Not sweet ($3.70). 
Refills: First one free.
Wi-Fi speed: 7,338 kbps.
4128 NE Sandy Blvd. 6:30 am-7 pm Monday-Tuesday, 6:30 am-9 pm Wednesday-Friday, 8 am-9 pm Saturday, 8 am-7 pm Sunday.

Green Beans, Kerns
Green Beans’ vegan-but-not-pretentiously-so atmosphere is as Portland as it gets. Veggie burritos—all under $6—make it a great price for students. There’s seating for you and half your humanities lecture in the shabby side room straight out of That ’70s Show.
Mocha: The sweetest ($3.70).
Refills: Free for large cups, 50 cents for small and medium.
Wi-Fi speed: 2,228 kbps.
2327 E Burnside St. 7 am-6 pm Monday-Friday, 8 am-6 pm Saturday-Sunday.

Three Friends, Buckman
Three Friends is a quiet, laid-back place to study, but with enough space to bring a group. This is where we would have felt most comfortable settling in for hours. There’s good music at the right volume and plenty of broken-in couches.
Mocha: Sweet ($3.50). 
Refills: 50 cents.
Wi-Fi speed: 8,756 kbps.
201 SE 12th Ave. 7 am-10 pm Monday-Friday, 8 am-10 pm Saturday, 9 am-10 pm Sunday.

Backspace, Old Town-Chinatown
Coffee shop by day, concert venue by night, Backspace is all ages, all the time. Great music, nachos and people-watching make it an easy place to spend your entire day, snacking on local pastries or nachos. It may be too loud and busy for serious studying, but it’s a good space for holding meetings or just spending time out of the house. 
Mocha: Sweet ($4).
Refills: None.
Wi-Fi speed: 12,002 kbps.
115 NW 5th Ave. 7 am-midnight Monday-Friday, 10 am-midnight Saturday-Sunday.

Vivace, Northwest District
Located in an old Victorian house, Vivace is laid-back and bright with plenty of food options. It’s best for studying solo, as there isn’t much room to spread out. Wi-Fi can be dodgy.
Mocha: Sweet ($3.75). 
Refills: 50 cents on house coffee.
Wi-Fi speed: 4,089 kbps.
1400 NW 23rd Ave. 8 am-10 pm daily.

Fehrenbacher Hof, Goose Hollow
A Lincoln High School favorite, Hof has a great menu, friendly baristas and good music. Snack on pastries, sandwiches, milkshakes or some of the best mac ’n’ cheese in the city. The first floor can be a little crowded and noisy, so head upstairs for a calmer atmosphere and larger tables.
Mocha: Sticky sweet ($3.50). 
Refills: 50 cents. 
Wi-Fi speed: 6,986 kbps.
1225 SW 19th Ave. 6am-7 pm daily.

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