The Portland Café Guide: Redux

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We uncover more of PDX’s specialty-coffee standouts: Keeper Coffee Co., Proud Mary, and Guilder Café.

BY EMILY JOY MENESES
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE

Feature photo by Peter Bucks via Unsplash

In part one of our Portland Café Guide, we began our exploration of the city’s ever-expanding specialty-coffee scene with notable cafés Prince Coffee, Deadstock Coffee, Portland Cà Phê, and FUTURA Coffee. However, these four cafés make up just a small fraction of the list of PDX coffeehouses worth visiting—and so we’re continuing our journey through the City of Roses with Keeper Coffee Co., Proud Mary, and Guilder Café.

A hand holds a mug with a latte featuring a rosetta. The countertop underneath is covered in tiny hexagon tiles, spelling out Keeper in tile right above the drink in the photo.
Keeper Coffee Co. is a people-focused café where reigning U.S. Barista Champion Morgan Eckroth works as a barista. Photo courtesy of Brittany Huff.

Keeper Coffee Co.

Located in Southeast Portland’s Woodstock neighborhood, Keeper Coffee is notable for a multitude of reasons. Reigning USBC champ Morgan Eckroth, who currently works at Keeper, shared their thoughts on what makes the café stand out.

“Keeper is a really special café,” Morgan shares. “It’s tucked away within a dense neighborhood and has become such a community hub. On top of a great coffee program, we also have a fantastic baking team and an impressive showcase.”

Outside Keeper there are cafe tables and chairs, a painted all caps sign on the top of the building under a metal lamp, and painted lettering on the windows that read: "single origin coffee, specialty tea, house made pastries" and list the store hours with the word "welcome." The building it white with gray trim around the windows and a green garland hangs from the roof.
“We’re a café that’s people-focused, and we take a lot of pride in our hospitality,” says Keeper Coffee Co.’s Morgan Eckroth. Photo courtesy of Brittany Huff.

“Really, though, we’re a café that’s people-focused, and we take a lot of pride in our hospitality,” Morgan continues. “Whether you’re getting a bite to go or staying awhile, it’s a lovely spot with something for everyone.”

Proud Mary Coffee

Anyone with their toes in the Portland specialty-coffee scene knows that Proud Mary is a must-try. Husband and wife Nolan and Shari Hirte founded Proud Mary in 2009 in Melbourne, Australia, eventually opening locations in Austin, Texas, and Northeast Portland’s Alberta Arts District.

In the foreground, blurred, is a huge green palm. A barista in a ballcap works behind the espresso bar. Industrial lighting hangs from the ceiling, and coffee paraphernalia covers the end of the counter. Customers sit right by the bar to drink. More seating can be seen in the background, as well as square windows.
Nolan and Shari Hirte first founded Proud Mary in 2009 in Melbourne, Australia. Photo courtesy of Lindsay Goodrich.

Aside from their exceptional offerings (many of which are Cup of Excellence coffees), Proud Mary also has a great Aussie-inspired food program. The café offers all-day breakfast, lunch, tea, fresh juice and smoothies, and baked goods, made with fresh and sustainably, ethically, and locally sourced produce.

A customer sips a drink behind a beautiful plate of poached eggs and greens with meat.
Aside from their exceptional coffee, Proud Mary also has a delicious Aussie-inspired food program. Photo courtesy of Lindsay Goodrich.

“We blend the innovative spirit of Melbourne’s coffee culture with Portland’s adventurous taste buds,” reads the café’s mission statement. “The result is a refined yet experimental approach to our food, beverage, and service. We joyfully nerd out on the product, the people, and the process that brings it all together.”

Guilder Café/Junior’s Roasted Coffee

Founded by Caryn and Mike Nelson and partners Tony Roberts and Carrie Lind, Guilder Café gets its name from the movie/book The Princess Bride—a theme that’s present throughout the café’s menu, design, and packaging. The café has two locations: the “East” location in Northeast Portland’s Alameda-Irvington neighborhood and the “West” location inside of Powell’s City of Books. The East location features a micro-roastery—Junior’s Roasted Coffee—with its own café located on NE Prescott Street.

Another notable thing about Guilder/Junior’s: the founders’ dedication to ethically and sustainably sourced coffee. In 2018, Guilder’s founders launched the Cost of Production Covered Project to serve as their guide to green coffee-buying practices.

The inside of Guilder is a large open space with a wall of window, metal stools and chairs, a long metal bar, concrete floor, and staircase leading up to another floor on the right.
Guilder was founded by Caryn and Mike Nelson with partners Tony Roberts and Carrie Lind. Photo courtesy of Caryn Nelson.

Working with importers and exporters that they know and trust, they aim to identify farms that are willing to collaborate on long-term projects and hope that transparent coffee-buying practices will help inform consumers about the hidden costs of other food systems, and will motivate larger coffee companies to buy more sustainably.

“When (we) started Junior’s, (we) wanted to think deeper about what makes a good roasting company,” founder Caryn Nelson shares. They wanted sound environmental and social conditions at the farm level, as well as equitable trade practices between all supply stream partners. That includes how they operate their business in Portland and share their coffee story with consumers. “While quality is about roasting coffee to best suit its terroir, and brewing it to best represent all of the hard work and dedication that poured into that product from seed to cup, (we) wanted specialty coffee to mean more than just excellent taste,” Caryn says.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Emily Joy Meneses (she/they) is a writer and musician based in Los Angeles. Her hobbies include foraging, cortados, vintage synths, and connecting with her Filipino roots through music, art, food, and beverage.

Source: Barista Magazine

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