Caffe Tazza, sign of this famous little coffee shop in Taos, NM, March 21, 2010, photo © 2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.
You know the place. A quiet buzz about it, like the buzz you get when you drink what it sells. Café latte. Cappuccino. Chai. Espresso.
You go there because that’s where you like to go best when you have a free moment to write. The sound of people talking, milk being steamed, the coffee grinder — it’s white noise. Not so loud as to distract yet not so quiet as to hear your voice inside your head.
Unless you live in a truly rural area, your city or town probably has such a spot where people gather, maybe talk politics or business deals or religion. Maybe it’s more diner than coffee shop, but no matter, it’s a place you can depend on for a good cuppa Joe and a little peace of mind.
Some coffee shops are as old and famous as monuments. Heck, they are monuments.
According to the Kona Joe website, coffee houses are part of the foundation of modern financial and shipping centers, not to mention cultural ones.
The New York Stock Exchange started as a coffee house, as did Lloyd’s of London—previously Lloyd’s Coffeehouse. The Baltic Coffeehouse became the London Shipping Exchange, and the Jerusalem Cafe became the East India Company.
Up until recently the runners at the British Stock Exchange were still called waiters due to fact it too started as a coffee house.
Other cafes evolved into centers for both the arts and sciences. Sir Isaac Newton hung out at the Grecian Coffeehouse. Jonathon Swift and Alexander Pope hung out at Old Slaughter’s Cafe.
The French and American Revolution were fomented in the coffee house. On July 12, 1789, Camille Desmoulins leaped on a table at the cafes of the Palais Royal and urged the mob to take up arms against the French aristocracy.
Due to the fact that much discussion of political intrigue and gossip occurred over a cup of Joe at these famous coffee houses it was only a matter of time before someone started writing these things down.
A man named Richard Steele decided to publish a weekly magazine on the most interesting gossip collected from the coffee houses. Correspondents were sent out to these coffee houses and wrote what they heard as narratives. This collection went on the become “Tatler,” the first modern magazine. London’s second oldest newspaper, “Lloyd’s News,” started as a bulletin board in Lloyd’s Coffeehouse.
There are famous coffee shops all around the world and a heckuva lot of not-so-famous ones, too.
Coffee shops come and go. Coffee shop owners are, I imagine, a lot like bookstore owners. They go into the business because they love the product, and not just the coffee or the book but the whole experience. But independent coffee shops can be as rare as independent bookstores. When you find one, hold on tight. Tell your friends about it, and make sure to frequent it often.
I don’t know about you, but when I get to a new city somewhere, the first place I seek out is a coffee shop. It makes me feel settled. It gives me a place to go, to sit alone quietly and know that even though I’m hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles away from everything familiar to me, I am home.
Do you have a favorite coffee shop, at home or in the cities you visit most? What is your special place like? Think about it. Why do you love it so? Is it a soothing place to be? Is it dingy yet homey? Do you love it for the dependable java or the people who work there and/or go there?
How often do you go and how long do you stay? Where do you sit and what do you do while you’re there? Do you order yours skinny, decaf, double, with foam?
Write about your favorite coffee shop. Hey, go to your favorite coffee shop and then write about it.
My favorite coffee shop. Fifteen minutes. Go.
The oasis that is Oasis, ybonesy’s favorite coffee shop, March
2010, photo © 2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.