Just Say No to Starbucks

Whether it’s dripping coffee or rain, Portland really epitomizes the name Drip City this time of the year. As winter truly sets in around the metro area, Portlanders will be looking for ways to stay warm against the cold and wet weather. For many people this means making their way down to their favorite coffee shop and purchasing a nice warm cup of coffee or tea.

Portland is a great city to live in, especially when you take into account all the wonderful local coffee roasters. There are multiple roasters throughout the city, from the iconic ones like Portland Roasting and Stumptown, to smaller but still equally comforting roasters like Ristretto and Trailhead.

With all the great local options for coffee, one might assume that big corporations such as Starbucks might struggle in a city like Portland. Yet if the number of cafes and green and white cups I see floating around campus are any indication, many people—especially students—go to Starbucks rather than a Portland-roasted coffee shop.

Don’t get me wrong, Starbucks is fine. I’ve found comfort in a cup of Starbucks tea on more than one occasion while on vacation and looking for my caffeine fix. Starbucks is comforting in its familiarity and consistency around the world. But when we live in such a coffee mecca like Portland where unique and original coffee is practically everywhere, why settle for just fine?

Starbucks is a safe bet for coffee when there aren’t many other alternatives, but in a place like downtown Portland, alternatives are everywhere. Maybe Portland State students don’t think there is a better choice for coffee to be had on campus. Maybe the availability of Starbucks is very attractive to some people. If you know what you like, why be forced to change it?

I can think of a least four Starbucks within a few blocks of the main campus (counting the “Proudly Serving Starbucks” location in Smith Memorial Student Union). Trying to find variety in your coffee can prove to be a bit more difficult if you don’t know where to look.

Branford Bean (PSU Millar Library, 1875 SW Park Ave.) is my most frequented place to get decent coffee on campus. This little coffee stand—tucked in the back of the first floor of the library—serves Stumptown coffee. While the lattes can leave something to be desired compared to the Stumptown cafes themselves, you can get good drip coffee quickly and for not a lot of money. Right away, I should have every coffee-addicted student’s attention.

The Meetro (King Albert Building, 1809 SW 11th Ave.) is another campus coffee shop, and they serve up Portland Roasting coffee. Both the Meetro and Branford Bean are affiliated with PSU Food and Dining Services, and you can use your dining dollars at either of these locations.

There is also coffee available at the student-run vegetarian restaurant Food for Thought (PSU Smith Memorial Student Union, 1825 SW Broadway) which serves drip coffee and espresso drinks from Trailhead Coffee Roasters. The coffee is cheap and plentiful (and costs even less if you bring your own mug), and it’s a perfect spot for any coffeeholic on campus.

If none of these places do it for you, and you are willing to walk a few blocks during a break from classes or hop on the streetcar, you can find many more local coffee shops within about a mile of campus.

Just a few stops on the streetcar up from the Park District is one of my favorite hidden gems, Behind the Museum (1229 SW 10th Ave.). Behind the Museum is a quaint Japanese cafe with a bit of European flair in the coffee and sandwiches they serve. The coffee here is Extracto, another roaster local to Portland. If coffee isn’t your thing, Behind the Museum specializes in Japanese tea that really hits the spot on a cold Portland afternoon.

If you have a few hours between classes and need a hip place to study or need to grab your morning cup of joe on the way downtown, then you may want to make the trip up to Case Study Coffee. Case Study Coffee (802 SW 10th Ave.) is located right off the Central Library streetcar stop. It’s about a mile away from campus but provides delicious, handcrafted coffee drinks that are like nothing you’ll find at Starbucks.

Case Study Coffee offers their own unique coffee, as well as house-made syrups. The vanilla syrup has real, long strands of vanilla beans, and the hazelnut syrup tastes just like the real thing.

The next time you decide you’d like a hot cup of coffee, think about all the options available to you in the City of Roses. Starbucks is a good and fine place to get coffee, but why limit yourself by not exploring all that the Portland coffee scene—especially the spots around campus—has to offer?