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Posts Tagged ‘writing about coffee shops’

My favorite coffee shop has light and green, is serene. The food is one of the biggest draws, a tortilla breakfast sandwich for $2.99, and it has bacon inside and a poached egg, cheese, lettuce, salsa. The best dish is a red chile tamale with a poached egg on top. I’m not a poached egg fan normally, so I know I love a coffee shop when it’s got me loving poached eggs.

Oasis is a furniture shop, also, an odd combination: coffee and outdoor and indoor furniture. If there were a theme to the furniture it would be serenity. Second time I’ve used that word when talking about Oasis. Several fountains throughout the place, wind chimes, wicker and bamboo chairs and tables, statues. Some statues are giant Buddha heads, another is Saint Francis of Assisi, the guy known for his love of animals. If Jim were a modern-day saint, he’d be St. Francis.

I like the color of the place, dark wood tables and the wind chimes and bird feeders come in all colors of blown glass. I like that my favorite coffee shop gets all manner of people, old, young, single, couples. Here, at the Starbucks where I’m hanging out while Em is getting a Math tutor lesson, 85% of the people who’ve come in don sports outfits, like they’ve just stopped in after a game of tennis or a jog. If this Starbucks were a city, it’d be Boulder—young, fit, and blonde.

I’m a loyal coffee shop consumer, a patron, I suppose. I will go to my favorite coffee shop at least once a week, not as frequently, I realize, as the loyal Starbucks patron. Some people stop in daily, drop that $5 every single day. I’ve seen stats that show how if you invested your coffee habit dollars into a good mutual fund you could within a few years have several thousands of dollars.

I am of that ilk, I’m afraid, the person who rather than fuel a coffee habit every day at my favorite coffee shop will save the money and drink my morning drink at home most days. But I’m still loyal, I still try to do my part to keep a coffee shop solvent. I’ll take my daughters to Oasis most weekends and together we’ll order drinks, breakfast, and if we’re real hungry, a couple of pastries to share. Oasis has the best pastries.

If I lived in Albuquerque, I’d hang out at Java Joe’s, which is across from Robinson Park, that old part of downtown where Mom used to shop at Arden’s. For all I know, Java Joe’s is the old Arden’s. Or there’s that newer shop in LoDo, the lower downtown district, that is so cool, it has a hidden patio that reminds me of being in another country. I’ve only been there once, last summer, and I hope it survived. Just like I hope Oasis survives.

Hard to imagine any of these Mom & Pop places competing with this Starbucks, though, the steady stream of jogging-suit-clad men and women. I swear at least 40 coffee drinks have been sold in the 40 minutes we’ve been here.




–related to Topic post: WRITING TOPIC — MY FAVORITE COFFEE SHOP

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My favorite coffee shop is the Blue Moon on Lake Street in Minneapolis. Large windows facing an urban street; back-lit hideaways with less light, more cozy. Then there is my favorite table. I have two of them. The one across from the half moon string of lights over the serving bar. And the one right by the front door, up against the cooler. I would sit with my back to the cold white wall, facing the refrigerator wind that blew through the door a Minnesota winter. A writing group I used to be a part of met at the Blue Moon once a month. We called it the Blue Mooners. It has disbanded now.

Second favorite coffee shop? Diamonds in Northeast on Central Ave. The parking is limited but I like the checkerboard flag, that the owners are women bikers, that I can hide away inside what used to be the building’s bank vault. Are the walls green, yes, I think the walls are mint green with vintage lamps and tables. I don’t know how people make it in the coffee business. It was mentioned in the Writing Topic that people get into it because they love the product. We’ve got Caribou’s corporate headquarters here in Minneapolis. I’ve always tried to support them. Who can compete with Starbuck’s? And Starbuck’s may not even be the best — but they have the longest arms.

Kiev is sleeping next to me at almost 1am and I’m writing about coffee shops. She thinks I’m nuts and has left me in the dust with her zzzzz’s. Sometimes she snores her little cat snores. Mr. StripeyPants is more likely to take long, deep breaths. Long deep cat breaths. He does it when he’s frustrated or when I won’t play with him. Cats like three things: exercise (to them it’s play), food, and love. Now that I write the words, those are the same things humans need. Not necessarily in that order.

I’m fond of Tazza in Taos because I’ve got memories there with my writing friends, memories of sitting alone and jotting practices in my wire bound notebook with a fast writing pen. But there’s Taos Cow. I wrote there once, too, after a trip to the D. H. Lawrence Ranch. I have read my writing in coffee shops which, looking back, horrifies me. How in the heck did I stand up there and do that? It was a launching pad of sorts, the kind of thing you do when you’ve got nothing to lose. Maybe I need to get back into it. Coffee shops are forgiving. Also noisy. Writers and poets crammed between fiddle player and ragtime. We stuck it out. It’s important to stick things out.

All of the coffee shops have WI-FI now, which begs the question — how do they make any money? I read an article on how people would camp out in coffee shops for the free WI-FI and not buy any drinks. Or buy only one, then stay for hours chatting with their friends, writing, reading. Taking up tables and space. How do you balance the bohemian slant of a good coffee shop with the real need to make money. They need to make money to stay alive. Just like we do.

When I was a teenager, the coffee shop of choice was Dunkin’ Donuts. There was no Starbucks. No Peets, Caribou, or Java Train. No Diamonds, Urban Bean, or Anodyne. I had a friend who worked at Dunkin’ Donuts one summer. It was 1976. She wore all white (no hairnet but instead one of those creased paper hats) and served me a free cup of coffee when I came in. I’d watch her pluck lemon crèmes off the slanted steel shelves, and place them next to chocolate coconut cake donuts and fry-bogged glazed donut holes. Dunkin’ Donuts coffee smelled good, that old style percolator odor that gets into the nooks and crannies of a place. The price of a cup of coffee in 1970 might have been 10 cents, a quarter. Two bits, four bits, six bits a dollar. For a cup of perked coffee, I’d stand up and holler.

 

-posted on red Ravine, Friday, March 26th, 2010

-related to Topic post: WRITING TOPIC — MY FAVORITE COFFEE SHOP

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 caffe tazza in taos

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.
 
 
 
espressoSome 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.

 
 
 
 
hai cafe in hoi anThere 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   buddha in oasis coffee

The oasis that is Oasis, ybonesy’s favorite coffee shop, March
2010, photo © 2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.



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