Sprudge.com is the first to report on the opening of Heart Roasters‘ second location, now in public preview mode in downtown Portland at 12th & Alder (537 SW 12th Avenue). Our staff were among the very first recipients of an espresso shot at this new Heart location. The shot in a question? Ethiopia Guji, bright and clean and almost refreshing, remarkably dialed in for a 10AM day one public preview.


There’s no design firm at work here, no consulting agency – like their flagship location on SE Burnside, Heart’s downtown Portland location was conceived and executed by Wille and Rebecca Yli-Luoma. New to the mix at this location is Brent Fortune, who is the co-owner of Heart Downtown; Mr. Fortune is the former owner of Crema in SE Portland, a former WBC certified judge, and has more recently worked with Coffee Common and the Good Food Awards.


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The shop itself is a striking exercise in black and white, with forrest green Eames chairs and mid-century wood tables in the style of Tapiovaara, a noted Finnish designer. The cafe occupies 750 square feet in “Black Box” building at 12th and SW Alder, designed by Portland’s Skylab Architecture, whose principal architect, Jeff Kovel, maintains a private residence above the space. There are gorgeous stereo speakers by Roller Sound, suspended around 10 feet in the air; stunning floor to ceiling windows facing out on to Alder; opaque white carafes by Emsa; pre-dosed specimen jars full of Rishi Tea offerings; plans for a rotating flower wall; and soon, a massive black and white post of a Pacific Northwest woodland scene. Without being gaudy, the space is eminently style-minded.


There will be no manual pour over service offered at this cafe. No Chemex, no Aeropress (served expertly at Heart’s original location). Guests can enjoy espresso from a striking Kees van der Westen Spirit paired with two Mazzer Robur-E grinders, or filter coffee, batch brewed on a Fetco and ground using a Mahlkonig EK-43. The focus here, Mr. Yli-Luoma told us, is to “make it super simple.” He went on: “Make good coffee, and represent our coffee the way it’s supposed to be presented. I’m sick of all the inconsistent Chemex out there. We batch brew into glass lined carafes. They never sit for more than 20 minutes.”


Heart’s owner, Wille Yli-Luoma.

This all speaks to a kind of big city, “Downtown” vibe, and the cafe is certainly well-positioned for that with neighbors like John Gorham’s popular Tasty n Alder, the continental-facing bar / restaurant combo of Gruner and Kask, and the newly opened Multnomah Whisk{e}y Library, where you cannot, under any circumstances, get a table as of this reporting. Portland’s two best boutiques – Alder & Co. and Canoe – sit kitty corner across the Alder & 12th intersection, and the city’s quintessential Ace Hotel location is just two blocks away. In a city whose reputation is for leafy neighborhoods and sleepy commercial blocks, it all feels very big.



Heart Downtown has public preview hours for their opening weekend (November 1st, 2nd, and 3rd) – 10am til 2pm, with complimentary coffee to all guests. Formal service begins Monday, November 4th at 7:00am. 

Original photography for Sprudge.com by Joanna Han (@JoannaKarenina). 

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