As a regular coffee drinker and blogger of Portland’s independent coffee scene, I tend to be open to many different roasters around town and usually have a different bag of beans in my cupboard every week or so. But I recently began to develop some favoritism for Water Avenue’s “El Toro” espresso blend — silky, with hints of dark chocolate but no bitterness, just rich coffee-ness. It’s just how I like my espresso but is a flavor that sometimes is a little hard to consistently find.

It took me awhile to actually try Water Avenue Coffee. Sure, I saw the beans for sale at my local Whole Foods store, but I like to actually try a new coffee at the roaster itself or preferred café.

Notes on Water Avenue

The first time I ventured into the coffee shop/roastery, I was chaperoning a third-grade field trip to research Portland’s bridges along the Eastside Esplanade. While the class stopped under the I-5 bridge to eat sandwiches amidst the pigeons and nearby homeless encampment, another mom and I ran a couple blocks to the bright yellow industrial building with the large “Water Avenue Coffee” sign for a cup of coffee to warm our bones.

Location: Located on, of course, Water Avenue (1028 SE Water Avenue to be exact) in a renovated warehouse that now rents to creatives and yogis, Water Avenue Coffee is an inviting destination in the up-and-coming Eastside industrial neighborhood.

Coffee: That first Americano warmed, woke up and did all the right things for a field trip chaperone walking under the bridges with 33 third-graders. I’ve been back three times since and Water Avenue Coffee continues to never disappoint. As I said, I’m a fan of the El Toro, which a very nice barista recommended, and this year I began to buy the beans at the more conveniently located grocery store. My coffee-drinking other half agrees that Water Avenue’s got a good blend going and is currently our favorite at-home coffee.

Cool stuff:Water Avenue is the real deal. From the outside, they may appear to be a hot, indie coffee roaster with bearded and eye-glassed baristas who look like extras from Portlandia, but Water Avenue Coffee actually has an authentic, down-to-earth vibe, eclectic clientele (from grandparents to truck drivers) and clutter behind the counter. And the coffee’s just damn good, whether espresso, pour-over or cold-pressed.

Not so cool: As I’ve said about others before, location, location. While the digs are cool, if you don’t work in that area or happen to make a detour from MLK or get off I-5 at the Water Avenue exit, Water Avenue Coffee is not the most convenient place to get to. But it is worth a trip, if you’re in the neighborhood, for the coffee.

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