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December 4th, 2013 MATTHEW KORFHAGE | Cover Story
 

Hook It To My Veins

Portland runs on a steady drip of high-grade coffee.

lede_4005ILLUSTRATION: Allison Kerek
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We write to you bleary-eyed and shaky.

In recent weeks, we imbibed countless cups of caffeinated brew—at cafes early in the morning, at the office all day, and in espresso martinis late at night. We’ve discovered ourselves, awake at 2 am, watching old episodes of Doctor Who with blood vessels pulsing angrily behind our eyes.

It was worth it. In the years since Stumptown Coffee rode by on a skateboard and stole the trophy from Seattle second-wavers Peet’s, Starbucks and Seattle’s Best, Portland has become the best (and certainly the most dedicated) coffee city in the country.

Third-wave micro-roasteries have multiplied into nano-roasteries that make small-batch, single-source roasts with beans bought from a single-mom farmer in Guatemala through a direct-trade consortium (see here). Your grandma does pourover at home through a spiral cone—at least until she learns how she can cold-brew a week’s worth and store it in her thermos—and your neighbor roasts beans in his basement.

There’s a lot to take in. But after weeks of jittery research, we’re sharing with you our favorite new cafes from the past year. Maybe it’s the beans they roast, maybe it’s the care they take preparing your cup, or maybe it’s the more ineffable qualities that define a good cafe: the feeling that a place could be your home if it didn’t close at 6 pm.

But we’re not snobs about it. We also sent an intrepid reporter to apply for a job at a bikini barista drive-thru in the far western suburbs—you can see how it panned out here. We offer advice on how to act at different types of Portland cafes, from post-Occupy samizdat press to post-yoga quiche factory.

So go forth, drink good coffee, and please: Learn from our mistakes. Stop at the 12th cup.

 
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