Wednesday, April 2, 2014

C is for coffee and cupcakes (Portlandia A to Z)


Stumptown Coffee
Coffee is yet another item on Portland's list of claims to fame. It's #2 on Travel & Leisure's "America's Best Coffee Cities," Yahoo's "Best Coffee Cities," the San Francisco Chronicle's list, and Pacscafe's list (after Seattle, of course). lists us as #3 in "10 Best U.S. Cities for Coffee Snobs," surprisingly after Atlanta and Austin--Seattle is #6!). Portland has three separate mentions on the Complex City Guide's Best Coffee Roasters in the U.S. Right Now, and our own Stumptown Coffee is at the top of the list of 24.

Having coffee with a friend at Maplewood Coffee and Tea
Here are Portland's 20 Best Coffee Shops and Roasters, according to PDX Eater. I realize that I need to get out more, because like the brew pubs in town, I tend to go to the old standbys and places near my home or office. Like nearly everyone else in Portland, I love Stumptown Coffee (which I can get near my house at Grand Central Bakery). I also enjoy going to three coffee shops in SW Portland: Village Coffee, Maplewood Coffee and Tea, and Driftwood Coffee...and our favorite local restaurant, Marco's Cafe and Espresso Bar, has outstanding fair trade coffee too. None of them roast their own coffee, but they have great neighborhood vibes and friendly staff.

In Portland, we are so into coffee that my children's elementary school has its own blend roasted for us by Portland Roasting's sold as a fundraiser! I do frequent Starbucks on occasion, too, although I'm most definitely a coffee snob. No instant or cheap coffee for me. No fine restaurant in Portland can survive without top-notch coffee--it's a must.


Like the rest of the country, Portland's been in a cupcake craze...even though it might be a little quieter than a few years ago. My favorite cupcake place in town is Cupcake Jones, primarily because we know the owner's mother (and they are fabulous, too). Cupcake Jones is based in the trendy Pearl District.

Until late last year, the other main cupcake joint in town, Saint Cupcake, had a hugely loyal following. Sadly, they closed their doors and now the owner is focusing on candy instead.

Perhaps unique to Portland is the preponderance of gluten-free bakeries in town, including Petunia's Pies and Pastries. The most famous gluten-free bakery, though, is Kyra's Bake Shop (formerly Crave), which has been listed on USA Today's list of 10 Great Places to Bite into a Gourmet Cupcake and's list of 9 Best Cupcake Shops in the Country.

Hungry Heart cupcake
I imagine Portland, also food cart capital of the world, is the only city with a cupcake food cart! Hungry Heart Cupcakes has both a stationary food cart on Hawthorne Boulevard and a mobile food cart (named Chomps) that moves around, mostly to workplaces like Intel, Xerox, or Kaiser.

Cupcake truck
Cupcake Girls founder Joy Hoover (on right)
Cupcakes and the Seamy, Unfortunate Side of Portland

While researching Portland's plentiful cupcake options, I discovered a new organization: the Cupcake Girls. Founded by Joy Hoover, this nonprofit organization's mission is to "bring nonjudgmental support, consistent caring, community resources, and peace, love, and cupcakes to women in the adult entertainment industry."

The Cupcake Girls began after Hoover took a trip to Las Vegas and became aware of the needs of adult entertainers, who lack love, resources, and support. Recently the Cupcake Girls expanded to Portland, which unfortunately has the most strip clubs per capita in the country (that is NOT a list I am proud of for my city). Portland has also become a hub for sex trafficking because of its less restricted laws and access to the I-5 corridor.

The Cupcake Girls offer more than cupcakes. They also provide assistance with medical and dental needs, finances, tutoring, nutrition coaching, law consulting, drug & alcohol rehab, domestic violence, etc.

Watch this short video to hear more about this amazing nonprofit. I'm so glad to have discovered this organization that helps to alleviate the challenges faced by women in this industry. They are providing support to women who often do not have any.

Read my other A to Z posts here, and stay tuned for tomorrow: downtown!


  1. Hi, Stopping by from the A-Z and a new follower. I'm going to love learning more about Portland. I live near Pullman, WA, and have been to Portland many times ... Powells is a favorite haunt, and we've always been meaning to try out the Deschutes Brewery. But now I'll learn so much more. Nice to meet you.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Cathy! Deschutes Brewery is a very convenient location near Powell's! ;)

  2. Wow - the cupcake girls - what a fantastic cause to support! I had no idea such a group existed - thanks for finding that gem and spreading the word. m :o)

    1. I know...right? Thanks for your comment, Marci!

  3. I am learning so much! Thank you, Marie!