My Love Affair with Coffee Shops

[Begun on 1.2.14 at the above coffee shop while waiting for a friend to arrive … pictures taken in Feb. 2010.]

The bakery is humming with life this chilly, second day of the New Year. Baristas move back and forth, right to left, behind the counter, cheerfully gathering requests, patiently waiting, and re-stocking the pastries, sweet and savory, inside the glass case.

College students gather around long wooden tables, earnestly talking, the hope of new ideas in their eyes. A mama balances a baby on her hip, while toddler brother weaves in and out among tall people surrounding him. Older women, maybe old friends who haven’t seen each other in months, embrace. The elder gentleman opens the door for his wife – maybe a weekly tradition for them? The businessman checks his text messages before heading out the door, the hipster with plaid and vest on waits, waving to the girl behind the counter.

Muffins are prodded with silver forks, steaming lattes foam in ceramic mugs, and the old paneled walls, pillars, and archways continue to surround a community of thriving life. This place welcomes all ages, all ethnicities, all walks of life … it’s a gathering place for conversation, ideas, reminiscings, and joy – this twenty-first-century tradition of the coffeehouse.

What did we do before their advent, I wonder? Where was the meeting of the minds, the community center of life, young and old, the house of morning traditions and late afternoon meetings? Perhaps it was the pubs – or some other similar place – but to me, nothing seems quite as cozy and homey as these little shops filled with hot drinks and sweet snacks.

There’s something in these places that makes my artistic, creative self bubble up in joy. No wonder J.K. Rowling chooses to write in cafes – and C.S. Lewis & J.R.R. Tolkien philosophized in such places. It’s a birthplace of intellect, inspiration, and creativity. A place in which you can talk animatedly with a friend or melt away undetected with pen and paper in hand.

The storms of life may come and go, but these little coffee shops stay – a calm place in which to sort out all of our storms. When the door opens and the bell jingles, it’s an invitation to come and stay. To sip deeply, to sit long, to process life, to appreciate the beauty all around you. Maybe even to fall in love …

… as Landon Pigg so melodically suggests in one of my favorites, “Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop.” [Watch the music video. It’s exquisite. And perhaps it might end up being the song you walk down the aisle to like my dear friend, Jenna … who listened to it for the first time that same weekend we went to the Rockwood Bakery together and took all these pictures …]

A chai latte and a muffin. A couple of best friends. A writing journal and pen. A long book in which to bury yourself. Vintage charm and homey chairs and tables. These are the companions at the neighborhood coffee shop. Life should always make time for visits here … because you never know what grand idea or best-selling novel will be born within its four walls. Or maybe you’ll just receive refreshing of the soul – which, after all, is what we need most in life.

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