Story of Portland Downtown Store: Book of Tea Café

*Tomoe Horibuchi

*Tomoe Horibuchi


Today we would like to introduce the new café that will open in our Portland Downtown store.

The “Book of Tea Café” is a Japanese style café serving Matcha and homemade sweets, and will be the second location for owner Tomoe Horibuchi. Her first café, “Behind the Museum Café” is also located in downtown Portland, literally behind the Portland Art Museum. Tomoe has been practicing traditional Japanese tea ceremony for 20 years, so don’t miss the opportunity to come and delight in the joy of authentic Matcha.

Here is an interview with the café owner, Tomoe Horibushi.

Why did you pick Portland to open a Japanese café?

When I visited Portland for the first time, I knew right away that I wanted to live here and open my own café. I was inspired by Portland’s green nature, lively people, and the beautiful Japanese Garden close to downtown.  If you walk around downtown, you will notice all the local stores and restaurants instead of chain stores.  Portland respects not only local businesses but also other cultures.  This combination of support for local business and multiculturalism led me to think Portland is the right place to open my café.

*Behind the Museum Café

When did you open “Behind the Museum Cafe”?

* Behind the Museum Café  from the outside

*Behind the Museum Café from the outside

I have lived in the United States for 30 years with the past 7 years in Portland.  The story of the café begins in July 2011 when I visited a local art museum. I parked in front of an empty building right behind the museum, and I thought that this empty space would make an excellent location for a café, given its proximity to a multicultural museum, and I approached the building’s owner. Luckily, they were looking to lease the space so I decided that this would be the location for what would become the “Behind the Museum Café.”

After the location was decided, I worked hard on opening the café.  In another fortunate coincidence, Portland people were so nice and they really helped in many ways preparing the café with their friendly mindset. Finally, the “Behind the Museum Café” opened in December 2011.

Why did you decide to open your second café in Kinokuniya?

I never thought I would open a second store so eagerly.  I was working hard at my current store, and I also knew how hard it would be to open a new store, so I wondered if it was even possible for me to take on a second project.  However, when Kinokuniya bookstore approached me, I thought this opportunity was “Goen” (fate). I did not think there was any other bookstore that I would want to open a café with, so I decided to accept the offer. Kinokuniya is special to me because when I used to live in Japan and San Francisco, I would visit Kinokuniya all the time.  They always had a wide variety of books and cool things like stationery and gifts.

Tell us about your new café “Book of Tea Café”.

The café will have a new design and atmosphere. The first café is a traditional Japanese tea café, but the second one inside Kinokuniya will have a cool and modern style. I know the new café will be an exciting place because all the cool people who search for something new will come to Kinokuniya bookstore. I am thrilled to open a new café at Kinokuniya, and I hope the café will help people find a relaxing environment and enjoy their time there.

I also want to make a takeout menu, and I am planning on hosting events. Engaging with customers through events is very important to me, and I am ready for the fun events to take place.

Do you have any menu recommendations?

I have been working with tea for 20 years so I know Matcha well.  My top recommendation is certainly Matcha which is imported directly from Kyoto. For sweets, I recommend the Matcha brownie, Matcha pistachio and the Matcha cookies. These sweets are all homemade. For drinks, the Matcha Latte and Hojicha Latte are delicious! We also serve locally roasted coffee from Extracto Coffee Roasters.  We can’t wait until everyone tries them at the store!

* Matcha Latte, Matcha cookie, Matcha brownie, Matcha & Omanjyu

What does your café mean to you?

I love the café because it brings joy to me.  I make tea, serve it to customers and they say “thank you” to me. All these little moments make me happy, and I feel grateful for everyone who visits the café. I want to make another space full of joy in the Kinokuniya Portland Downtown store.

2-Behind The Museum Cafe.jpg

A message to all the future Kinokuniya Portland Downtown customers.

Please come visit the new store! I have confidence that the store will be a beautiful and fun place. You will find me there serving delicious tea so come and say hi!


Portland Downtown Store

829 SW 9th Ave,
Portland, OR 97205