World Cup Coffee & Tea 

 10th & Burnside St.

 ( inside Powell’s)

 Portland, OR

If you’re a reader in Portland, you probably know Powell’s Books. In fact, you may love Powell’s! And if you are a visitor to Portland, and also a reader—or a visitor of a reader, or traveling with a reader—you will probably be pointed towards Powell’s. It is truly a booklover’s paradise, with floor after floor of books: new books, rare books, used books, near-books, and not a whole lot else. Not much cutesy, some arty cards but very few calendars, and little pop-culture merchandising. More nerd culture, if anything. They do sell inflatable mooseheads for some PC style in your den, and a supply of  games like Settlers of Cataan. Best of all, Powell’s buys your books for credit or cold hard cash, which you can fritter away on coffee and goodies, should you choose to, in World Cup Coffee & Tea. Located within the store in the SE corner on street level, it is accessible only through the store, so you must experience a bit of Powell’s just to set foot inside it. Then you get more taste of Powell’s when in the coffee shop: high shelves of books provide decoration for the place, and you are allowed to take prospective purchases into the coffee shop to read. (Please don’t spill…) If you later decide they’re not your cup of tea, you can place them on a restock cart. Just a touch of old-fashioned trust in the café. A lot of old-fashioned reading goes on—surprise!—more reading than computing! I witnessed only one child being read to, but zero-zero!-playing something electronic.

The place was so jam-packed that we couldn’t find any chairs; I think this is one coffee house which, like its adjacent bookstore, has been discovered. It appears to have simply evolved, as if it were never really “decorated”.  Powell’s is in an old building, and so the coffee place is not fancy.  Signs (such as pick up here, put dishes there, set restock items on this) and posters, chalk and bulletin boards, and big, tall bookshelves are the most noticeable things. Well, maybe except for the people; people-watching is prime. Busy hip workers with body piercings scurry about preparing special drinks and keeping the readers fed and caffeinated, while customers greet friends, seek out new reading material or food, or relocate as spots open up. There are long tables for spreading out newspapers or study projects or new literary acquisitions. For people whose heads (many of them) are buried in books, they’re certainly wiggly! Or maybe I should say alive.  People share the tables;  life is good.

Fare: Tantalizing pastries beckon with a lot of choices. My World Cup Roasters coffee was $1.50, and I tried a tiny rolled-up pastry for $.75 to take the edge off my appetite.

Hours: open while the bookstore is open

Bathrooms: located somewhere else in Powell’s—yet a bit hard to find if you are unfamiliar with Powell’s layout. Fine once you get there, assuming you got there in time!

Clientele: everybody! Nerds, pulp readers, college students, babies, tourists, child bookworms, gays, oldsters, homeless, professionally-dressed, hippies, gamers, singles, immigrants, hipsters, families…you get the idea. Actually these were made up; I have no idea how to describe them, really.

Rating: 5 (of 5) coffee beans, because you are allowed so much freedom: to stay indefinitely, to spread out & move things around, to read company books. And it tastes good, too.