As coffee giants around the country close their doors, micro-roasters in Portland, Ore., are proving that smaller is better.
It takes a lot to impress a coffee drinker in the Pacific Northwest. Fair trade, single origin? That's just the beginning. Following the trail blazed by Stumptown Coffee Roasters founder (and hometown hero) Duane Sorenson, a new class of caffeine geeks has taken up the micro-roast cause, tending tiny batches of carefully curated beans and setting up superspecialized cafes all over Portland. Whatever you do, just—please—don't try to order a venti.
This Pearl District café is named for the people who pull the shots. Three-time Northwest Regional Barista Competition champion Billy Wilson plays scientist behind the bar using double-chambered glass vacuum pots (539 NW 13th Ave., baristapdx.com).
Art shows staged by a local curator, a designated "cupping" area for tastings, and a loftlike setting in a former bicycle factory elevate owner Din Johnson's newest outpost well above satellite-office status (3808 N. Williams Ave., ristrettoroasters.com).
Cellar Door Coffee
Roasters Andrea Pastor and Jeremy Adams met as apprentices in the sustainable-farming program at the University of California, Santa Cruz; fittingly, their 2-year-old Southeast Portland café is equipped with an environmentally friendly roaster that runs on green energy (2001 SE 11th Ave., cellardoorcoffee.com).
Red e Café
At this 9-month-old newcomer, owners Keith Miller and Mindy Farley run their baristas through minicourses to prepare them to talk about each day's 6 to 10 roasts (1006 N. Killingsworth St., theredecafe.com).
Last year's addition of a hulking, four-by-seven-foot 1950s cast-iron Probat roaster upgraded this casual Northeast Portland neighborhood hangout into a bona fide mecca for bean fiends (2921 NE Killingsworth St., extractocoffeehouse.com).