Portland, Oregon is an undeniable leader in the “maker movement” in the United States. Outdoorsy, original, and driven by small-scale manufacturing, the PDX makers dream is simple—create quality products that can fund the artisan who created them.
Not only has PDX spun up local support from groups like Portland Made, which spotlights area makers of products ranging from soaps to furniture to tech accessories, but the region is also home to Nike, Columbia, and Adidas. Having these innovative companies and their big resources in proximity can only fuel the passion for creation and enterprise.
Yet what about the food and drink? Well, Portland has a strong advantage in this sector, thanks to its location in the agriculturally rich Willamette Valley, once referred to as the “promised land of flowing milk and honey”. This means F&B makers here don’t have very far to travel for natural ingredients, thus keeping the supply chain small.
All this isn’t to say Portland can only play small ball. 10 Barrel Brewing (acquired by AB In-Bev), Stumptown (sold to Peete’s), Tazo Tea (acquired by Starbucks, now part of Unilever), Dagoba Chocolate (sold to Hershey’s), and a bevy of other home-grown companies have proven that Portland makers are versatile enough to stay small or go big.
These days, it’s no surprise that Portland’s group of scrappy makers are finding new ways to get their products made, marketed, and in the hands of folks both locally and around the world, even in the middle of a pandemic.
So who should you be following in the Portland area? Below is our curated hot list of emerging F&B companies, complete with a handy little map. Read about ’em, get to know ’em, and hit ’em up when you see ’em.
Know of a PDX F&B company we should watch? Submit them here.
Please click to enlarge. Created in May 2020 by Foodboro staff and friends.
Note: As we built this graphic, we looked at over 60 new food and beverage of all shapes and sizes in the greater PDX area who were pushing boundaries and innovating. ‘New’ was loosely defined as five years old or less. These are the sixteen we felt best represented where the PDX food & beverage scene is right now.
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Riff steeps their carefully selected beans in cool water for about 15 hours, creating a cold brew coffee that extracts all desirable compounds of the beans, without the bitter and acidic taste. Aside from cold-brewed coffee in several flavors, Riff also sells Alter Ego sparkling coffeefruit tea. While their taproom has been closed during Covid-19, Riff is offering takeout and delivery, as well as working on a local delivery service. They’ve also been able to sell their product through UberEats, Amazon and direct. And in an effort to give back to healthcare workers, Riff is matching purchases of their coffee and Alter Ego to donate to frontline workers on the consumer’s behalf.
When Josie Johnson had to eliminate gluten from her diet, the foods she missed the most were pancakes at Sunday breakfast. So she set out to create her own gluten-free pancake mix that wasn’t just good for the gluten-free folks but good enough for folks who didn’t have gluten allergies. Now she’s grown Josie’s Best Gluten-Free Mixes from pancake mixes to waffles, muffins and crepes. Each product is tested for gluten and made in a dedicated gluten-free and top 8 allergens-free facility. Since Covid-19, Josie has done virtual pitches to spread the word about her product, and has utilized Amazon for e-commerce. But she’s also offering free local porch delivery in the Central Oregon region.
These daring, small-batch probiotic beverages from Good Wolf are made by traditionally fermenting non-dairy kefir crystals and flavoring them with organic ingredients. Rotating flavors include Hibiscus bloom, ginger lemon, coconut lime, and turmeric pineapple. Also, the branding is fierce. Good Wolf recently landed in Erewhon stores in California but during Covid-19, they’ve been selling their drinks direct when possible. Additionally, Good Water has donated a portion of their profits to Oregon Food Bank and Meals on Wheels America.
The Bitter Housewife is bitter only in name, as in cocktail bitters used to pep up alcoholic drinks. But everything else is super fun. The entire line is hand-crafted in small batches with the best ingredients and the most adorable packaging ranging from 50ml to 100ml bottles. The Bitter Housewife recently unveiled a new product, Bitters & Soda, served in a 12oz can. Here their signature Old Fashioned Aromatic bitters have been reformulated to be free of alcohol and sugar, then mixed with carbonated water. And best of all, you can drink it any time! The past few months, bitter sales have been way way way up as people are making their own drinks during lockdown. But folks can easily try Bitters and Soda too, for only the cost of shipping.
Started by Seraphina Palandech and her wife Jen Johnson in 2018, A Boring Life is named after the lavender farm they live and work on in Boring, Oregon. But of course, their brand is anything but boring. The product line ranges from raw honey with fruits and nuts, snacks, CBD oil, and even dog treats. Everything is made using highest quality whole foods and natural product sourced from their local farmers. A Boring Life opened their first café just before the nationwide lockdowns began, but has been able to offer carryout in the meantime. All products are available online as well. Read more about the makers of A Boring Life here!
Seeking to add some “oomph” and nutrition to your meals is easy with Oomph Cooking Blends, dehydrated organic herbs and vegetables that can be added to everyday dishes from scrambled eggs to soups, meatballs, stir-fry and casseroles. The 8 blends are all made without salt, preservatives, chemicals, pesticides and GMOs. Co-founders Christine and Michael began Oomph after seeking a healthy, innovative shortcut for their home-cooked meals, one that would elevate the flavor meal but still be good for you. Oomph Cooking Blends can be bought online through their website and usually at farmers’ markets, although they’ve pivoted to pickup during Covid-19. On that note…need a fun mask template? Oomph has this cool origami one.
With a trifecta of hot sauces—Guajillo, Bibimpap, Tamarind— Hoss Soss uses high quality ingredients, original blends of roasted vegetables and spices, and chili peppers to create their bright flavors which can be used on everything from tacos to veggie bowls, pizza, chicken wings and more. And you gotta love that twist on the name. Hoss Soss is available on their website, through several online markets and in stores throughout Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska. These days, Hoss Soss is donating 10% of all online sales to the Lift Your Spirits Challenge to benefit the National Restaurant Association’s Relief Fund.
What the world could use more of now is more all-natural wellness boosters and remedies to support the mind, body, and spirit from Mind Your Manna. All of the products are made from raw apple cider vinegar and saturated in nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices. Valerie Roth started Mind Your Manna in 2014 with the intent to provide an accessible line of all-natural wellness tonics began to brew. Today her “Brew Crew” makes a variety of tonics, shots, and even pet brews. All are available online through their website and select retailers.
Honeybee Lemonade Syrups (@honeybeelemonadesyrups): Artisanal syrups
What started from the window of a food cart, Honeybee Syrups hit retail shelves in 2019. These all natural syrups are free from preservatives and added sugars. They can be used as toppings on ice creams and desserts, as syrups on pancakes and waffles or as mixers for cocktails, mocktails and sparking water. You can buy Honeybee online or through select markets in Portland. And lately, Honeybee has been doing free local door drop delivery!
Straightaway Cocktails (@straightawaycocktails): Ready-to-drink cocktails & spritz
Founded by two cocktail enthusiasts in 2018, Straightaway began with the belief that everyone should be able to enjoy a good cocktail, regardless of their bartending skills. With an array of cocktails and spritzers in a stunning design, Straightaway makes it possible to have a refined drinking hour in the comfort of your own. Which is happening nearly every day now. You can purchase the drinks through the company’s website and in stores across the Pacific Northwest. While the company’s taproom is currently closed, the brand is offering delivery by the case as well as complimentary hand sanitizer with all orders over $40.
Margalaxy Snacks (@margalaxysnacks): Raw superfood snacks
A passion for health and healing others through food led Margalaxy founder Margaux to develop a range of raw, refined sugar-free snacks including superfood bars, granola and energy bites. You can buy these out-of-this-world snacks online and at select retailers across Portland. If you’re actually in Portland, Margalaxy is offering no-contact delivery drops as well.
Honey Mama’s (@honeymamas): Nutrient-rich chocolates
A background in nutrition and experience working in the food industry primed Christy Goldsby to start Honey Mama’s in 2013. Fueled by her passion for healthy living, she ended up creating honey-cocoa bars made from five nutrient-rich ingredients—raw honey, unrefined coconut oil, cocoa powder, Himalayan pink salt, and sprouted almonds, shredded coconut, or sesame seeds. All ingredients are highest quality, direct–trade, organic, and non–GMO ingredients. You can pop into Honey Mama’s online shop for orders or look for them on the shelves at Erewhon, Bristol Farms, and Whole Foods. With the absence of industry events, the brand is focusing its marketing on partnering with other food and beverage makers for giveaways. Check out Foodboro’s exclusive interview with Christy here.
Founded in 2017, Freeland Spirits is a women-owned craft whiskey and gin distillery, selling gin, bourbon, genever and most recently, gin & rose tonics in cans. While Freeland has closed their tasting room, what would otherwise be a setback for an emerging brand, they have pivoted by offering delivery to the local Portland metro area as well as curbside pickup. They are also selling Freeland Quarantine Kits and hand sanitizer through their website.
Fernweh Foods Co. (@fernwehfoodco): Plant-based meals and snacks
Like many, Fernweh Foods is a side-hustle-turned-business. Founder Ashley Lance started making her food to fuel her adventurous, active lifestyle. This passion for nutrient-dense, convenient and sustainable foods led her to create Fernweh (which is German for “far-longing.”) The brand uses seasonal, local ingredients and 100% reusable packaging. You can purchase these adventure meals, bowls, chips, and more on the Fernweh website. There are also local pick-up and delivery options too. Since the start of Covid-19, Fernweh has been spotlighting healthcare badasses on their social media.
Breakfast Cure (@breakfastcure): Convenient morning meal starters
Founded in 2017 by licensed acupuncturist Karen Taylor, Breakfast Cure produces a variety of congee (Chinese rice porridge) with the mission of bringing a healthy breakfast ritual everyone can enjoy, something that is more important and sacred than ever amidst these uncertain times. You can purchase Breakfast Cure directly through the company’s site, now with no minimum order required.
Birdseed Food Co. (@birdseedfoodco): Small-batch granola
After being diagnosed with celiac disease, Birdseed founder Ashley Chase started experimenting with making nutrient-rich foods from scratch. In the process, Birdseed was born in 2017. Try their recently launched line of kasha seed-based granolas made with bold ingredients like turmeric, ginger, lavender and cacao. In the wake of COVID, Birdseed joined forces with other food brands and Founders Give to support New York Health Heroes. The products are available online and in retailers across Oregon and California.
PORTLAND F&B ECOSYSTEM PARTNERS TO KNOW
- Portland Made (Collective of local entrepreneurs)
- Portland Mercado Commissary Kitchen (Kitchen Space)
- Hannah Kullberg (F&B Startup Consultant)
- SuperMaker (Business Media and Community)
- Local Milkrun (Local Grocery Food Delivery)
- Masa Fresh (Local Farmers Markets Delivery)
- Provenance Hotels (Homegrown hotel chain seeking local artisans)
- Portland Saturday Market
- Portland Farmers Markets
- Portland Night Market
PDX ELDERSTATESMAN MAKERS
Tazo Tea: Started in 1994, Tazo Tea approached Starbucks for investment in 1998 but wound up being acquired by the coffee giant a year later. Tazo is now a part of Unilever but nearly 20 years of Starbucks exposure has cemented Tazo as a go-to tea brand. The Lipton for the Gen X if you will.
Stumptown: At the front of the third-wave coffee movement, Stumptown opened its first coffee shop in Portland in 1999 before expanding locations to Seattle, New York, Los Angeles and New Orleans. By 2015, it was acquired by Peet’s Coffee Since then, café openings have been near-ubiquitous and products now include cold-brew with oat milk.
10 Barrel Brewing: First opened in 2006 as a production brewery, 10 Barrel Brewing grew to open distribution centers and brewpubs in Oregon, Washington and Idaho before joining up with Anheuser-Busch in 2014.
Dagoba Chocolates: Founded in 2001, this premium chocolates line was acquired by the big daddy of chocolate makers, Hershey’s, in 2006. Recently, Hershey’s has been looking to divest Dagoba, putting it back out on the market.
Salt and Straw: What began as a food cart on the streets of Portland in 2011, Salt and Straw has expanded into brick-and-mortar shops up and down the West Coast. You can even have a small pint of it in first class on Alaska Airlines. Salt and Straw so far remains independent of any big food influence.