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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Portland
Coffee, Baked goods
Café

Hours
Daily 6:00am–8:00pm

Features Outdoor dining, veg-friendly, Wi-Fi
Bar None
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx

North Portland
4637 N. Albina Ave.
Portland, OR
(503) 282-5214
Albina Press
Come for a pedagogical experience or just a religious one—either way, this is coffee at its best

Albina Press is like the small-production, biodynamic winery that refuses to oak (or oak much) and is obsessed with terroir-driven juice. These guys are artists; they’re passionate and persnickety. Not only do they care about the beans, but also they care about where the beans were harvested and how much the pickers were paid. The coffee must be tamped perfectly, and if the pull or the temperature or the crema is not perfect, they’ll dump the shot and start over.

The results are life-changing, even for self-proclaimed coffee snobs, who will find such an intoxicating and yet stimulating blend of aromas, mouthfeel, and flavor that they will never again settle for big bruisers like Starbucks—or coffee that they have to load up with sweeteners and flavored cream in order to make palatable.

When the place isn’t slammed, the baristas will walk you through the choices of espresso: Hairbender, Stumptown, or Harar. Americanos are lush and translucent and have a great depth. The French press is done with just the right grind to minimize leftover sediment. Cappuccinos are rich, with a buttery mouthfeel and nearly perfect body. The artistry takes visual forms, as well: a latte might have a perfect apple of white and tan floating on a smooth, brown crema. At most serious coffee houses, if you order hot chocolate, you’ll get it with a bit of attitude; here, it may come with a perfect rosette.

The interior is inviting, with a laid-back vibe and mellow music. Check out the trophies from the National Barista championships. A bar next to the windows invites contemplation, and there are plenty of regular tables and soft couches to dive into. Free Wi-Fi and a surprising number of electrical outlets lures college students, neighborhood regulars, and newly converted coffee geeks. There are also a dozen blends of Tao of Tea, and the pastries are a step up from the norm in quality and size. But all of this is in mere service of some of America’s best coffee.

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