Pick Your Stumptown: A Telecommuter’s Guide
Summer 2018 might just go down in history as the year Portlanders expanded their definition of Cabin Fever. It’s not just an affliction during the rainy season anymore. First, The Oregon Department of Transportation announced The Big Fix, the biggest road construction project in… well, official word is 10 years, but it seems a bit like forever. Their suggested solve? Telecommuting. Or a vacation for the lucky among us. There was even a battle of playlists to help drivers make it through the projected 3-hour, bumper-to-bumper commutes.
Then Portland was hit with record heat. Then, the air filled with smoky haze from nearby wildfires and the air quality alerts went out. So instead of the usual lunchtime strolls, outdoor happy hours and weekends frolicking in the Willamette (ok, that is still happening), many Portlanders have found themselves working from home. Fun for a few days, sure, but no matter how much you love your home, sometimes you just need a change of scenery. And coffee. Naturally, when we think coffee, we think local fave, Stumpton. So we headed out to scope out which Stumptown locations make the best office for a day.
4525 SE Division Street
Ever wonder how Stumptown’s famous blend Hair Bender got its name? While the answer may seem obvious, it’s actually in honor of the beauty parlor that occupied this space before the first Stumptown café opened here in 1999. Today, this spot is pleasantly sunny and bright. With 5 decent-sized tables and bar seating at the windows, it’s not the biggest location but it’s roomy. Music spills into the seating area from the record player near the register. The volume is spot on—loud enough, but won’t drown out your earbuds if you prefer your own tunes. The selection is happily eclectic and on our most recent visit, we were treated to Francois Hardy. With AC as strong as the coffee, you can enjoy a warm brew even on a hot day.
Try: Hair Bender. It’s only right to order the signature brew in its birthplace. Velvety smooth with a balanced sweetness.
33546 SE Belmont
Pleasantly gritty with an old-Portland vibe, this spot has a constant stream of locals coming and going. The tables are tucked in back past the exposed brick wall behind the bar. The music is a little louder but not overpowering. Make this your pick if you’re meeting friends for happy hour after “work.” Don’t forget to snap a selfie outside at one of the sidewalk tables against the red brick wall.
Try: Nitro. Cascading and creamy. Think Guinness but without the beer part. No ice required!
Ace Hotel - 1026 SW Stark Street
Ok, this is probably not the spot to post up and work for several hours but it’s always fun to pop in for a quick cup and play tourist for a few. There’s not a ton of seating but the combined vibe of Ace Hotel and Stumptown can’t be beat for Portland chic and if you can snag one of the overstuffed couches, you’re golden.
Try: The seasonal special. When we were there, it was a Horchato Cold Brew. Sweet, creamy cinnamon on plenty of ice. Delish!
Downtown – 128 SW 3rd Ave
A telecommuter’s mecca. Sleek and modern, here, the iconic Stumptown brick gets a coat of white paint and there are plenty of seating options. Grab a spot at the communal table where everyone has their nose buried in a laptop. Luck out with one of the individual tables, each with its own wall outlet. Opt for one of the more casual low-slung chairs if you’re meeting someone, or pull up one of the window bar seats and watch the Voodoo Donut-bound throng stream by.
Try: Cold Brew. Smooth and full-bodied with low acid and a chocolate finish. Enjoy over ice.
Whichever Stumptown location you choose, you’re in for a treat. The coffees are sublime and the ambiance always just so. But it’s the baristas who make the place. Not only do they make a gorgeous latte, but they patiently and enthusiastically answer all caffeine-related queries with a smile. We even overheard them fielding questions over the phone. Good to know—if your canned nitro has expired, no, it won’t make you sick. It just might not be optimally smooth.
Take it to go: Every location has a great selection of beans, bottles, cartons and growlers, not to mention tons of cute swag.