Continuing the good news of businesses returning to Portland’s downtown, Powell’s City of Books has an in-store coffee shop again. Guilder Cafe—a local, Princess Bride-themed coffee business—opened its second location in the southwest corner of the store this past Friday, Nov. 27.
Though steady streams of customers have returned to Powell’s, filling the aisles with way more literate people than you could have imagined existed, the cafe’s opening represents one more sign that the nicer aspects of the city are on their way back. Powell’s just wasn’t Powell’s without a place to thumb through the first chapter of a book or people watch through the space’s wraparound windows.
A light redesign to the space added platform seating steps with padded cushioning to the mix, though there are still plenty of tables and counter seating along the south-facing windows. Custom wallpaper by local artist Kate Blairstone wraps around the coffee counter, portraying various city landmarks like Big Pink (the U.S. Bancorp Tower) in fairy-tale illustrations.
Gilder Cafe is inspired by William Goldman’s self-aware fantasy novel The Princess Bride and the 1987 Rob Reiner film adaptation of the same name, but no one at the coffee counter is likely to call you “m’lady.” The love is more subtly evidenced in food item names, like the Farm Boy Oats or shareable plates of biscuit and field roast called Spicy Humperdink and Savory Humperdink.
As one might expect from fans of heroic deeds, Guilder is also interested in operating ethically and justly. There’s a disclaimerlike statement front and center on its menu, advising that the coffee you buy there is a little pricier than people might anticipate. “We encourage you to think of coffee farms as small businesses,” the menu reads. “We all need to pay more for coffee because it costs more than we think to produce it.”
The prices don’t seem all that unusual—an espresso is $3.25, a cappuccino is $4.50, a fancy fall Autumn Miracle Pill latte with cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, vanilla, panela sugar, coldbrew and salt is $6. That is perhaps 50 to 75 cents more than your average area coffeehouse—though on par with many other local cafes.
At this time, Guilder asks to see proof of vaccination or negative COVID test (taken in the past 48 hours) from customers who wish to take their coffee in the cafe instead of to go. Takeout guests don’t have to show proof of vaccination status, and masks are required inside Powell’s across the board.
DRINK: Guilder Cafe NW, 1005 W Burnside St., guildercafe.com. 10 am-8 pm daily.