July 23rd, 2009

Wifi, caffeine, and coworking: 10+ Portland coffee shops for meeting up with Portland’s tech types


Wifi, caffeine, and coworking: 10+ Portland coffee shops for meeting up with Portland’s tech types

[Editor: Thanks for swinging by! Unfortunately, this post is severely out-of-date. But fear not, gentle reader. There's a new and improved resource for coffee, wifi, and coworking here in Portland, Oregon.]

Admittedly, we in the Portland Web, Mobile, blogging, and startup scene are a bit of a nomadic bunch. Whether finding some place to camp out in between meetings or hunkering down to crank out code for hours on end, folks around these parts are always looking for a good spot to work—preferably with an infusion of caffeine nearby. And sometimes, it’s nice to have some peers around for bouncing ideas or simply just a little company.

So where are the best places in Portland to cowork with coffee, wifi, and cohorts? Here are ten choices for your coffee shop coworking pleasure, with a couple of bonus suggestions of up and coming spots.

Albina Press



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Always great coffee with always comfy couches in the front and back, Albina Press is a favorite haunt of many a North Portland and Mississippi Ave tech type. Did I mention the coffee? Whoof.

If you’re looking for a hard-to-find-a-seat bustling atmosphere with plenty of folks moving through it, Albina Press is the perfect place to spend a few hours. Or you could always hang at the window-facing bar and keep one eye on the passers-by.

But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s what Portland Food and Drink has to say about Albina Press:

The interior is rather unremarkable, pretty much your typical laid-back coffeehouse. Still, it is a spacious place to while away a rainy afternoon with the paper. There’s a bar area next to the windows so you can stare out on a rainy day and contemplate life. Plenty of regular tables are scattered around, and there are two areas with soft couches to dive into. Free Wi-Fi is available, with a surprising number of electrical outlets to plug in your laptop if need be. The mix of customers runs the gamut, from neighborhood regulars to coffee geeks who come from a distance. College students make up the bulk of the crowd; still anyone can feel comfortable here.

See who has shouted from Albina Press lately on Shizzow. Or see what WifiPDX has to say about Albina Press.

Ava Roasteria



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Now stop. I can hear you already. “Beaverton is not Portland.” But give me a sec, would you? Jeez.

Ava Roasteria makes the list for a number of reasons. First, it’s open 24-hours-a-day. That’s right. Just like in the dotcom days. Second, it has blisteringly fast wifi. Third, it’s huge.

Now, won’t that help you overlook the facts that it’s a little off the beaten path and that they have an all Flash Web site with music that you can’t figure out how to mute?

There aren’t many user reviews, but I thought Nathan E. Lewis summed up Ava Roasteria quite nicely.

If you are in Beaverton, check out Ava Roasteria, Beaverton’s new coffee house. It is beautiful! Free wireless, rich coffee, and perhaps, the new center of Beaverton, a great place to meet people. It also happens to be my new office. Come visit me and I will treat you to a cup. The owner, an Iranian woman, specializes in purchasing contaminated properties, transforming them into beautiful retail spaces.

See what WifiPDX has to say about Ava Roasteria. Or check out what input the Twitter types have about Ava Roasteria on iAte.

Bipartisan Cafe



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The always bustling Bipartisan Cafe is a great place to hang out in deep Southeast Portland. Don’t be intimidated by the crowd. Tables tend to turn over fairly quickly here. Or the bar is usually open. And the coffee is worth the wait.

Need more than coffee, wifi, and people? How about pie?

Bipartisan Cafe serves hand crafted coffee beverages made with world class, locally roasted Stumptown Coffee. We have a nice selection of black green or herbal teas from Tao of Tea. Our sandwiches are made to order on Grand Central Bakery bread and the soups are homemade from scratch. Our specialty is our pies—made from scratch like grandma used to make.

See what WifiPDX has to say about Bipartisan Cafe. Check out who has shouted from Bipartisan recently on Shizzow. Or find out who’s tweeting about Bipartisan on iAte.

Backspace



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Arguably the de facto hub of the Portland coffee shop coworking and startup scene, Backspace provides an expansive space, plenty of plugins, and enough wifi for hours and hours of work.

Suffice it to say, if you’re looking to see a bunch of Twitter avatars walking around in real life, this Old Town coffee shop is the place to be. Given its locale and its accouterment, there are always five to ten people you’ll recognize at Backspace. Guaranteed.

WifiPDX concurs:

Backspace is the default place to go when you have nothing else to do. 25 computers for internet and a mass of video games. Huge 4000 sq ft. building to enjoy stumptown coffee and see incredible art. Pool tables, X-box room, and Board games galore. Open Late! 2am every night!

But don’t just take locals’ words for it. See what a tourist has to say about Backspace:

Lest you think Backspace is a restaurant, the coffee bar is just a small part of why we go there. This is part Internet-cafe, part club, part beatnik hangout, part art gallery, and 4000 square feet more of whatever band, show, or feature is hot in the Rose city.… Ground Kontrol classic arcade is around the corner, where you can still play the old games for a quarter. In short, this is just a nice play to “be”.

iAte is surprisingly quiet about Backspace. Maybe because its just assumed that you’re there. Or you can take a look at the Shizzow traffic through that joint.

James John Cafe



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Much to my chagrin, James John Cafe is one of the few Portland coworking coffee shops I have yet to visit—but it comes highly recommended.

Don’t believe me? Ask WifiPDX.

Great coffee, fantastic pastries. And Ken at the counter is a great guy. It’s usually just busy enough to be interesting without being so busy that you can’t find a table. Great place.

See who’s hanging out in St. Johns via Shizzow. Or listen in on what the Twitter types are saying about James John via iAte.

Opposable Thumb



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If you’re in the Belmont area and you’re a nomadic worker, you’ve not doubt spent some time at Opposable Thumb. The big bonus to the Thumb as opposed to the Stumptown further up the street? Space for one thing. Opposable Thumb has plenty of space to spread out. And usually some places you can hole yourself up to avoid the foot traffic.

Food is another plus. If you’re going to be heads-down on a project for a few hours, tasty sustenance is well within reach.

In fact, marathon sessions at Opposable Thumb are a common occurrence.

The Opposable Thumb is a pretty delightful place to hang out and do work, especially if you’re a twenty-something hipster, like most people wandering around the 20’s and 30’s blocks of Belmont. To give you an idea of the amount of time you can spend here, I’ll mention that I once remained here for about eight hours without once going outside.

See who’s using their opposable thumbs to shout via Shizzow. For details on the connectivity, see WifiPDX’s info on Opposable Thumb.

Sip & Kranz



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Since World Cup in the EcoTrust building closed, the next best “near Jamison Park” location for grabbing a cup of coffee and banging out a few lines of code has become Sip & Kranz. And now they’ve—somewhat sadly—torn out the kids area. But that just means that there’s more room for the highly refined and mature activities of surfing the Web and making snarky comments on Twitter.

What’s more, Neighborhood Notes gives Sip & Kranz rave reviews.

The service is great: there are ample (Pleasant!!!) folks on hand to help with coffee, pastries or juice. Sip & Kranz proudly serves and sells Stumptown Coffee– the staff went through a lengthy training process to ensure that they meet the quality guidelines of “the holy grail” of coffee roasters. And it gets better… the pastries are from Nuvrei Fine Cakes & Pastries and there are glorious cupcakes from–where else– Saint Cupcake (the patron saint of sweet!)…

See who has shouted from Sip & Kranz on Shizzow recently. Or check what the Twitter types are saying about Sip & Kranz on iAte. For comments on the connectivity, check out Sip & Kranz on WifiPDX.

Stumptown Downtown



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Yes, it’s loud. Yes, it’s crowded. And yes, you have to carry that big damn duck to the restroom. But I’ll be damned if Stumptown on SW 3rd doesn’t have the finest con panna in town. And that rocket fuel combined with wifi is more than anyone needs to be a productive little worker.

And while I’ve singled out Stumptown Downtown, to be honest, they’re all pretty good locations to work on whatever it is you need to get done. And the one at the Ace allows you to wander over to the big cushy lobby couches.

But let’s get back to the location at hand. Now the most common complaint about the downtown location is the noise. Whether it be the crowd or the music that’s always jacked up. But you know what? I actually think that’s the big positive for this location? How can that be? Well, I’ll tell you. You see, Stumptown Downtown is perfect for meetings. Because when you want to sit down and chat about your top-secret stealthy startup project you can be sure no one is eavesdropping. Because the people next to you can barely hear themselves think. Yay for aural obfuscation!

And honestly? You come here for the coffee. Don’t believe me? Well, do you believe The New York Times?

But Mr. Sorenson and a few like-minded coffee hunters around the country will go almost anywhere, do almost anything and pay almost any price in pursuit of the perfect cup of coffee.… But it’s not a point he feels the need to argue stridently, because the proof — for anyone to taste — is in the cup.

Check out the Stumptown chatter on iAte. Or see who’s been by Stumptown Downtown recently on Shizzow.

Urban Grind NE and Urban Grind NW



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Whether you’re in Northeast Portland or up in the Pearl, swinging by Urban Grind is sure to have you sidling up alongside someone from the Portland tech scene.

They’ve each got their pluses. NW tends to see more folks traipsing through, thanks to its location, and it’s always easy to find an outlet. But NE has a ton of room. And more secluded areas to hide. Both of them have great connectivity and comfy seats for hours and hours of slaving away on your projects. And, at either location, the coffee and tea are good and the staff is knowledgeable. So you’re set there.

Portland Octopus gives Urban Grind a thumbs up or maybe eight thumbs up. Suction cups? Whatever. They like it.

Urban Grind is living proof that getting your daily fix doesn’t have to involve paying above average prices for a below average experience. On the contrary, this place is a perfect example of a local business that has established a huge following by providing a great atmosphere to compliment amazing products.

Who winds up where? Well, here are the folks who frequent Urban Grind NE. And here are the folks who wind up at Urban Grind NW. For what it’s worth, it appears that Urban Grind NW gets far more love on WifiPDX than Urban Grind NE.

Bonus: Up and coming coworking coffee shops?

Now, sometimes, you’re looking for somewhere to work that’s a little less coworking and maybe a little more isolated.

Invasion Cafe: Dawn Foster recommends Invasion, “New coffee shop called Invasion Cafe on 4th between Washington and Stark. Better than Stumptown to hang out.”

Portland Coffee House: Don Park offers “portland coffee house on broadway, one block from pioneer square, is a decent work place.”

Taborspace: Thanks to Chase Reeves for introducing me to Taborspace, yesterday. Great coffee. With a big wide open room lit by stained glass windows—it’s in part of an old church—this nonprofit coworking coffee shop was an inspiration for this post.

Tiny’s on MLK: I’m hearing more and more folks mention Tiny’s as a place to get some work done. Great coffee. Comfy seats. And they’ve got food too.

More suggestions?

It’s common knowledge that you can never build a list of recommendations without slighting someone’s favorite spot. So, if I’ve left your favorite coworking coffee shop out of the mix—and you’re interested in other folks starting to show up at your secret hideaway—feel free to add it to the comments.

But be forewarned. If you make a compelling argument, I’ll be adding it to the list.

(Image courtesy ennuidesign. Used under Creative Commons.)

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34 Responses to “Wifi, caffeine, and coworking: 10+ Portland coffee shops for meeting up with Portland’s tech types”

  1. Dawn Foster says:

    Don’t forget about the SE location of Albina Press. It’s a great place to work, too.

    BTW, I think maybe OpenID comments are having issues. I had to switch to a non-openID url to comment.

  2. Rick Turoczy says:

    Thanks, Dawn! I appreciate the suggestion and the bug report. Still chasing that OpenID problem. :/

  3. I find the wi-fi at Stumptown (downtown) to be excruciatingly slow, but excellent point about the noise factor. Great post all in all, I’m craving some coffee now.

  4. mediaChick says:

    About James John Cafe…yes the pastries are wonderful, and so is the ambiance and Stumptown coffee, but Ken isn’t there anymore. Chef Stephanie appears to be running the show. Yes, CHEF! Lunch and dinner is served, as well as brunch. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful food. The BACON is hand cured! Also, there is a full bar.

    And…why isn’t Ladybug Organic Coffeehouse on your list? Is it because it’s in the same neighborhood (St. Johns)? The food is outstanding, with a large selection of pastries and a brunch menu to die for, plus it’s all organic, as is the coffee. They also recycle the hell out of everything. There’s plenty of space, too. If you make it to St. Johns one day, don’t forget to at least poke your head inside Ladybug, too. I’ve spend many hours there doing my type-ity type type.

    Thanks for the list! I’ll be checking out Ava Roasteria!

  5. Todd Kenefsky says:

    Chance of Rain on SE 32nd (just off Hawthorne) is spacious and the food is very good. It’s a great place to work when the weather is nice and they open the big overhead doors.

    Fresh Pot on NE Mississippi. A converted old time pharmacy from prehistoric Portland and still uses the pharmacist tables so you can count your meds while you sip your bean water, which is excellent. You’ll likely see as many people working on sketch pads and Moleskine books as computers. It was a principle location for the Indie film Feast of Love starring Morgan Freeman and Greg Kinnear. If it’s good enough for Easy Reader it’s good enough for you. The Fresh Pot on SE Hawthorne is much smaller, tucked inside a Powells books.

  6. Aaron says:

    I’m at Invasion Cafe now and have been here for about 90 minutes. During that time I’ve been the only customer other than the barista’s mother. They might be up and coming, but unless business improves I suspect they’ll be down and draining…

  7. Dave Allen says:

    Floyds coffee both locations are amazing.. SE Morrison St at aboout SE 15th and Old Town near the U of O/White Stag building..

  8. Jeff Katz says:

    the Bakery Bar on NE Glisan (between 29th and 30th) is top notch. The only downside is that they close at 3:00. Super friendly staff and they make some mean fried egg sandwiches.

  9. Thanks for the list – always looking for new spots!
    I’m grateful for Ava Roasteria – it’s good to have a place to hang out in suburbia.
    Another Beaverton spot I would add is Java Nation. Good ambiance, wifi, & coffee. SW 117th & SW Canyon.

  10. Jmartens says:

    great list, about half are new to me. Can’t wait to try the one in Beaverton!

  11. Mike Berkley says:

    Floyds in Old Town.

  12. mike says:

    In Sellwood, the Blue Kangaroo and Twin Paradox are great spots.

  13. jnpdx says:

    I agree with @seeger regarding the speed of Stumptown wifi. Great shop other than that!

  14. Ed Borasky says:

    A couple more in Beaverton / Aloha:

    Original Coffee Brake: this is where I hang out most of the time when I’m doing coffee and wifi. The coffee is great — they roast it themselves. They also have really good soups. It’s a bit on the small side, though, so get there early.

    18647 Sw Farmington Rd
    Aloha, OR 97007
    http://www.originalcoffeebrake.com/

    Murray Hill Cafe: the coffee is great, and they have really nice recorded jazz. The downside is that there aren’t many power outlets, so bring your spare batteries.

    14500 SW Murray Scholls Dr
    Beaverton, OR 97007
    http://www.cafemurrayhill.com/

  15. Howard Kang says:

    I love Ava! Great atmosphere and food. Make sure to order up some Oregon Chai if you’re looking for something to sip on.

  16. Steven Walling says:

    As Shizzow will attest, I spend waaay too much time at Opposable Thumb. I just tried both Floyd’s myself, and they’re great too.

    Also, in addition to the Tiny’s on MLK, there’s one right next to the Hawthorne food carts. From productivity to Whiffies in one fell swoop!

  17. Tony Columbo says:

    Hand cured bacon. What does that mean. I have a vision of some old broad with a piece a meat in her hands …………………….

    Geez where did you come from. Hand cured bacon……………

  18. Ruby T says:

    I am with Mike! Newcomer Blue Kangaroo has fast become a favorite of mine! What a great vibe they have going on there! Pretty spacious and a nice sitting sofa/chair area. I never had any problems with the wifi and plenty of outlets. And to top it off they roast their own coffee in the shop there as well….mmmm delicious!

    http://www.bluekangaroocoffee.com

  19. No coffee shop list is complete without including Palio Cafe. Wireless is normally reliable, it’s located in beautiful Ladd’s Addition south of inner Hawthorne, and it’s quiet and cozy.

  20. Jeff Katz says:

    I think a new criteria needs to be added for this week: best A/C

  21. Kate Ertmann says:

    Seriously, I second what Jeff Katz said — I’ve been to this **fantastic** list 3x today searching for the A/C’d ones for some mtgs this week. Holy heat.

  22. Justin says:

    Second (third?) on Blue Kangaroo in Sellwood — one of my faves. I also dig Twin Paradox and occasionally Ugly Mug (which serves Stumptown).

    Mocha Momma’s in northern Westmoreland is great, too, but a little out of the way for Sellwood folks.

  23. For those further afield, in and around the various Farms, Acres and Glens in Hillsboro – Longbottom’s is the place to be.

    http://www.longbottomcoffee.com/

  24. dtwood says:

    my new favorite is Blend Coffee Lounge (@blendcoffeepdx) in the Adidas neighborhood (N Killingsworth/Greely). also a big fan of Crema (tons of power outlets), newcomer – the Red E (N Killingsworth), Extracto (NE Killingsworth), the Daily Grind in the lobby of the OHSU Tram base (WIFI-less… but great for focused work sessions with people watching, a view, and nearby sustenance). enjoy

  25. MichaelP says:

    Urban Grind NE would be a great place for work, meetings or just hanging out, but for their active pursuit of the stay-at-home mom market. A room full of screaming sprogs can ruin any nice environment. It’s too bad, but they gotta do what they gotta do to stay alive; just not with my business.

  26. aaronpk says:

    While we’re mentioning coffee shops like Ava Roasteria that are ever so slightly outside the city, I’ll mention my favorite in the Milwaukie area, Spring Creek Coffee House (@springcreek). It’s right on 99e at the river, so if you’re headed south it’s an easy stop along the way.

    Great coffee and wifi of course, and a new deli serving sandwiches, soups, home-brewed kombucha, and my personal favorite, the rice bowls.

    Disclaimer: I do graphic design and IT support for the shop, so my opinion may be slightly biased ;) On the plus side, if there’s ever a problem with the wireless, you can come upstairs and bug me to fix it!

    Spring Creek Coffee House
    10600 SE McLoughlin Blvd
    Milwaukie, OR 97222
    http://springcreekcoffee.com

  27. Carolyn says:

    I’d like to offer some insight that I found contradictory to the opinions offered here.

    Recently I’ve been looking for a great, reliable coffee shop with an emphasis on atmosphere so I can get some work done. I thought this site/article was wonderful in its objective to provide people with just that. Sooo….I went and have taken a gander at only a few thus far, and have been disappointed.

    Ava Roasteria – very nice looking inside and out but is ridiculously crowded, and the seating is sort of uncomfortable. The coffee isn’t that great either. I’ve heard other nasty rumors about customer service but I wont go into that since mine was fine.

    Albina Press – whoever said it’s a “Great place to work for a few hours” is a little off in my opinion. For the most part, the place is sterile and cold. Small tables with awkward sitting arrangements and uncomfortable chairs. Definitely wouldn’t and couldn’t spend hours working/studying here. There IS a small rear section of the shop that has two couches and a comfy chair but good luck getting that spot – on person generally sprawls all over the couch and puts all of their things on the coffee table.

    James John Cafe – nobody told you they they CLOSE AT 2 PM. I mean, are you kidding? Those are geriatric hours of operation! Scratch that no matter how “cool” or “hip” you are!

    ….will be visiting more of these places soon ….my goodness, I can’t believe it’s this hard to find a good, reliable coffee shop in Portland =(

  28. Ed Borasky says:

    I’ll second your remarks about Ava … I go by there after Coffee Brake closes and they’re always full up – no place to sit. Can’t comment on the coffee. I usually end up at the Murray Hill Cafe.

    By the way, I think most of the Sharis’ have WiFi now, but I haven’t found wall plugs near the tables, so you’ll be battery-bound. And they will try to force-feed you sugar-saturated pie! ;-)

    Speaking of WiFi, the Penguin Pub and Eatery where @mizd does Karaoke shows on weekends has WiFi now! I poisoned some pigeons there Saturday night ;-)

  29. [...] I’ve heard of no such electronics ban from Portland’s coffee world, and in fact, my friend Rick of Silicon Florist fame blogged about his top cafe picks for techies and telecommuters in his 2009 post, “Wifi, caffeine and coworking: 10+ Portland coffee shops for meeting up with Portland’s … [...]

  30. [...] 6, 2010 Bard Coffee, I do love you so. You were my first stop this time as I arrived in Portland.Wifi, caffeine, and coworking: 10+ Portland coffee shops for .Jul 23, 2009 So where are the best places in Portland Oregon to cowork with coffee wifi and [...]

  31. Fitz Ryland says:

    You dont have to work in a coffee shop to get out of the house. There are plenty of good coworking spots around Portland. Collective Agency is my favorite. http://CollectiveAgency.co open for free M-F 9-5 and has great meeting rooms and conference rooms if need be.

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  34. [...] tried to cobble something together on wifi, coffee, and coworking to help. But honestly that post is older than… well let’s just say it’s out of [...]


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