It's Not Just The Coffee
I know you think it's a waste of money going out for coffee, Maureen; but please re-consider. It's not just high-priced coffee. It's a social life for people who work alone all day at a computer, or own a one-person business, drive a cop beat, or sit in on endless conference calls, or raise little kids.
A quiet breakfast at home with NPR can be comforting; but if you want stimulating variety in your life, find a nearby cafē and make it your clubhouse. The right coffee shop is Cheers minus the alcohol!
After early morning sittings at the Zen Center, we stop at Java's on Gibbs Street for coffee. It's an art gallery with unique music on a good sound system, excellent coffee and baked goods. Mike, the owner, brings arm loads of flowers from the public market. He buzzes around keeping the place looking inviting from morning till night. His beautiful barristas: Tiffany, Amber and Melanie make us feel like family.
We've re-connected with some old pals like Jerry Laufer, a blues harmonica player and jeweler who knows and ministers to everybody. Through "The Rev" and others, we've gotten to know the policemen who stop in, other business owners. Our cousin, Bill Carpenter might drop in with someone from the County in a suit. We love seeing my nephew Brian or other Eastman Music School students starting their day. We catch up with other musicians we know about upcoming gigs, make plans for the weekend.
Each coffee shop has a different personality. At The Women's Coffee Connection on South Avenue, everyone seems to come in with their best friend and not connect to anyone new. But they do great work, hiring and training women recovering from addiction and Peruvian crafts hand made by women.
Boulder Coffee, so named not for Colorado, but because there are actually boulders in the basement and no one knows how they got there. Twice cars have driven through the front of that shop! They put up a huge sign "Bruised but not Broken, " rebuilt the front, re-opened again. A great community resource in the Highland Park area, they have good music at night, art openings, a Summer neighborhood festival.
It's worth visiting Daily Perks to see Bernie Lehman's realistic, yet magical, artwork hanging on dark orange walls. A variety of good music, easy on the eardrums, is available weekend nights at a decent hour for a small cover.
Sadly, the tiny Patrik's Kulinary Creations has disappeared; the yellow building at Benton and Goodman is for rent. Too bad. The place was immaculate, the scones were hot and delicious and Patrik has the best laugh of anyone you've ever met.
I got stuck at a Starbucks near 12 Corners in Brighton once because my car was being repaired nearby. Everyone in there seemed to know everyone else. Very friendly--"How did your math test go?" "Good luck with the interview!" "Great new shoes!" I'm not kidding. It was like being in the lunch room in building 147 at Xerox, minus the hot peppers and clean-up duty.
It was different from Java's where the greeting is more like "Hey 'sup? Can you believe this?!" (pointing to some D&C or NY Times headline), making plays on words, puns. We jump start one another's sense of humor in the early morning. Sometimes you need that push - that, and the thick foam on a skinny latte with two shots.
You better call me next time you're in town, Maureen. I'm taking you to Java's for a chocolate chunk scone, a latte and some laughs.