Upper Left Roasters

By Nancy Tannler

1204 SE Clay St.

Hours: 8 am–4 pm



Many Portland residents are happy when they see an old building being repurposed and used again instead of being demolished and rebuilt.

The remodel of the Upper Left Roasters is a case in point where local architects Fieldbrook Design created an inspiring space that is bright and airy – conducive to converstaion and connecting.

This location on the angular intersection of 12th and SE Clay St has had many incarnations over the years. One of the most popular was Parchman Farm where great local jazz music was served up nightly.

Today, owner Katherine Harris is serving up her version of good coffee, tea and food and Harris has a strong foundation in the restaurant business.

Her parents Jim and Kristin Harris, are seasoned chefs who have owned and operated several restaurants in Portland over the years.

Their last enterprise were the popular Daily Cafés – a testimonial to their long understanding of the business. In speaking with Katherine and her father – who came out of retirement as a consultant –  they are a family that truly get excited about food and drink.

It was the location that inspired Katherine to combine her desire to have a cafe that served food with a coffee roasting aspect too and this space is large enough to portion off a section for their shiny red ten kilo Proaster Roaster.

Roaster Chris Alspach mans the machine three days a week, producing some of the smoothest, sweetest coffee available in Portland. The coffee is full-bodied without adding anything extra and it gives a subtle lift to keep you sailing through your day.

“The roasting business is a lot about researching and sourcing the best green coffee beans,” said Katherine and Alspach spends a lot of more time doing this. They have to find coffee that can be used with their brew methods, espresso, pour over an drip. They like to know the nuances of their sources too, like weather patterns, soil health and environment to make sure they can create a stable relationship for the future. Currently their beans come from growers in Central and South America and Africa.

One of the things that the Left Coast Roasters offer setting them apart from other roasters is the food menu they serve with the coffee and drinks.

Along with pastries, they offer a selection of  hearty morning toasts and sandwiches. The food offerings are not complicated and they serve a satisfying meal to their customers. All sauces, spreads, and salad dressings are made in -house.

The lox sandwich with poblano schmear, capers, cucumbers and lemon and the country wheat served with avocado, radish, poached egg and Mama Lil’s Peppers are delicious standards served daily along with other daily/seasonal specials.

“We don’t source everything locally because some places just do things better,“ Harris said.  “We like a certain olive oil from Italy and Parmesan reggiano from Norway.”

Whenever possible they shop local: the bread is from Philippe’s Bread, the greens come from a friends farm in Hood River; Steven Smith Tea and 0Happy Mountain Kombucha are some of their providers.

The environment of Left Coast Roasters has the feeling of a bright library where a person can eat and talk. It’s a lovely place to refresh yourself.



Upper Left Roasters

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