How does one say something new about Heart Roasters?! That’s been my challenge with this review. I’ve conceded to just going on and on about how fantastic I think they are. Maybe you’ve never heard of them despite them getting noticed consistently for the past 6 years by making fantastic coffees. Maybe you’re one of the many who just moved here (GO AWAY! [unless I love you]). Maybe you just got into coffee like our dear Josh. Or maybe, like me, you can’t get over how great they are.
Here’s what you should know: Heart is the mutual love of the triumvirate of writers that is PDXpresso. We all agree on the excellence of their coffee as well as appreciation of their cafés layout and style. The cafés themselves are clean, slightly European while still also being very “Portland”. Seriously, we heart Heart. Sharla likes Heart, too!
I must confess that it took me one year after their opening, October 2009, for me to enter their café. Forgive me. I wasn’t yet the coffee nerd that future me, the now me, currently is. Okay, also forgive me for that moment of temporal nonsense. Anyway, in October of 2010 I moved a few blocks from the Heart location on East Burnside. I’d heard of this café opened by one of my favorite snowboarders, Wille Yli-Luoma. Since my first trip in, I’ve been back hundreds of times and have enjoyed their coffee’s growth since then. Hold up, go back a sentence. Wille, the owner of Heart, used to be a supreme level pro snowboarder. Don’t let that get in the way of anything my dear fans of coffee. One time I was sipping away in the café when in walks Wille with a group of other professional snowboarders, including Olympic Silver Medalist and well known shredder/partier/punker, Danny Kass. I later commented to Wille simply about that moment, without criticism. He mentioned that it’s not a café for the “boys club” of snowboarding. It’s a café for striving for the best cups in the world. It shows. In fact Wille himself placed 2nd at the 2013 World Aeropress Championships.
Heart has some of the best documentation of their coffee adventures. They post regular videos and photos on Instagram of their sourcing trips, taking special care to highlight farmers and farm quality. This is especially nice, as it shares the humanity and care that goes into specialty coffee. As well, they regularly post updates about their cafes, new coffees, and seasonal specials, which right now is a Spiced Pumpkin Latte that puts the green mermaid brand to shame!
As a brand they also excel. A simple font of their name is all they need. No horseshoes, arrows, or cursive. Just the lowercase of what I believe is American Typewriter font. This no-frills font adorns their merchandise. Mugs, shirts, totes, stickers, and headware are available next to their bags of whole-bean coffee. I have and love two of their beanies, made by Coal Headwear.
There are the detractors who claim that Heart has a pretentious or hipster attitude to it. I see ALL types of people here ALL the time. At this moment (more temporal craziness, but yeah, I was there) I see a guy playing chess by himself, some people studying, some reading, and yes, a guy with a well-groomed mustache. The other detractor many claim is the price, about a quarter more than many places actually. Here’s why! They source only the best beans. In fact, none of the coffee shops I enjoy have all the same coffees as every other roaster and Heart is no exception. On several occasions they’ve been the only roaster in North America roasting a certain bean. In order to rightly pay the aforementioned farmers, as well as the roasters and baristas, this is a necessity. It’s worth your quarter!
Those precious beans are always delicately roasted to bring out the brightest and most intricate flavors. In-line with respecting those flavors, Heart has no espresso roast. They recognize that espresso is a brewing method and that beans need not be over-roasted for that method. The house coffee, always a Single Origin option, is likely the best Fetco drip in the city. For those needing a cooler option, the cold brew and iced espresso drink always hit the spot. As mentioned earlier they do seasonal beverage. Last summer they had an Affogato, a shot of espresso over a scoop of ice cream, that was the best in town. Those who’ve tasted how delicious their barista’s make a coffee are routinely left desiring return trips. Outside coffee they have chai made by the amazing Sellwood coffee shop, Either/Or. Some delicous pastries will sate one’s hunger! Try the bran muffin or the maple scone!
Bottom line, Heart always has a coffee that is one of my favorites, no matter the season. If you fit in with my original list of ‘maybe’s’ at the top, get yourself in there! Have a nice cup of coffee and I’m confident they will be on your list, too!