Ode to a Utopian Coffee House

Friday, February 25, 2011

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Coffee porn
I have been granted a few hours with nowhere to go and nothing to do, so I decided to try a new coffee shop today.  It's one I'd driven past several times and always meant to try, since I am currently without a "regular" place to go.  The problem with living somewhere for a long time is that, eventually, you get to know too much about the local scene, and while you want to support it, you also know all the dirt, so it makes who to patronize (in the good, monetary way, not the condescending, shitty way) a bit tricky.  One coffee shop has a good atmosphere, but it costs too much and the employees are snooty.  Another one has great coffee but a so-so atmosphere, so you can't quite get into the groove of the place.  There's always Starbucks (kind of like McDonald's--no matter where you go, there is always a Starbucks), but they're not local, and so they're the exception, not the standard.  And then there's that place with great coffee (shade grown, locally roasted) and great atmosphere, but who had (at least at one point; not sure about now, I haven't been back) shady employment practices... which I would only know because I knew one of their employees.  It was the little devil on my shoulder, one of my September girls (professional barista-waitress-bar-tender-Jackie-of-all-trades).  Sigh... she ruins everything.  (and I do hope she knows I'm kidding ;)

So now we're here, at this place... and I think I might have found a new home.  The coffee is good, the atmosphere is comfortable, the music is mellow--ambient and coffee-shopish without sounding like every song was written by Jack Johnson or the Indigo Girls (absolutely no offense to either artist or duo), which means it doesn't invade my thoughts if I don't want it to.  And, the best thing, I don't know any of this business's politics.  I can only hope they're good,  honest employers to those who brew my beverage.  

Being a responsible consumer is difficult in this day and age.  Very little is cut and dried.  I want, in my Utopian daydreams, to go to a locally-owned place that has music like that which I am experiencing right now (the current song sounds a hell of a lot like Sigur Ros--they're Icelandic and if you haven't heard them before, do check them out, they're amazing--music to drown in); lots of nooks and crannies in which to sit and be alone, if that's what you want; good, comfy furniture; shade grown, organic, fair trade coffees and teas; a good behind-the-scenes business ethic (man, I don't want to hear that you stiffed your employees their fairly earned wages or that you fired someone for some reason that should get you sued, except that you know the coffee-slinging employee in question isn't gutsy enough and/or flush enough to hire an attorney to do the deed... especially not on the wages you've been paying them); and staff that doesn't treat the customers like they're not coffee-shop geek enough to be cool.  Oh, and which doesn't charge exorbitantly more than the rest of the coffee shops in town.  Is that really too much to ask?   I suppose it must be because it seems so hard to come by.  But this place will do for now.  Not enough nooks and crannies, but the rest of the atmosphere compensates for that.  And I haven't quite sussed out whether the coffee and tea are fair trade...  

Who knows?  In a few more visits, this little place might earn my absolute loyalty.  That would be nice.  I need a place to feel at home, and it's good to know where your loyalties lie.


rusk said...

I wondered the other day, what does fair trade really mean? I doubt the high-priced cup of coffee flows down that far. Reminded me of Grapes of Wrath, when the farmers owned the canneries.

firespark said...

According to Wiki:
"Fair trade coffee is coffee which is purchased directly from the growers for a higher price than standard coffee. ...The purpose of fair trade is to promote healthier working conditions and greater economic incentive for producers."
You can read more here:

Sarah Franz-Wichlacz said...

...ive been inspired by fair trade teas as well lately (something one never seems to hear about unfortunately)