When you’re in the mood for a pure coffee experience, Sterling Coffee is the place to go. What started with a little stand next to Trader Joe’s turned into what is arguably Portland’s greatest coffee roaster. Attention to detail is poured into every cup, so much so that espresso flights are served in Glencairn whisky glasses.
It feels like there is a little coffee snobbery going on here — the baristas all wear ties, and they’ll be quick to tell you how ordering espresso to-go changes the flavor of the coffee in an undesirable manner. That said, everyone here is so friendly, and we’ve never felt out of place or intimidated to ask questions about the coffee-roasting process.
Despite the coffee’s refined nature, the space here is surprisingly homey. The high ceilings allow the neighboring conversations to bounce around you as you enjoy the warm, plant-filled space. Sterling is a good destination if you also have non-coffee drinkers in the group. The chai is made in-house, the matcha tea is ceremony-grade, and the hot chocolate is so rich it’s basically a dessert.