By the Gastronome
We usually reserve this space in the May issue for a visit to a local Mexican establishment since one of us is crazy about Cinco de Mayo and the accompanying margaritas that the meals include. While we will most certainly be partaking in some fabulous chile verde and toasting more than a couple of margs on May 5th, we thought we would highlight the coffee (and tea) shops that abound in Old Town proper. Since Mother’s Day is also celebrated in May, our thought process was that your Mom might be more likely to want to be treated to some fresh brewed coffee and a pastry.
We realize that there are probably well over 50 coffee shops in the local OTC distribution area alone there is no way we could highlight them all so…..let’s start off with our version of Old Town “proper”. We included those locally owned spots whose prime offering is coffee and are situated between the waterfront and the King Street Metro along King Street and the side streets as far as Prince Street to the south and Cameron Street to the north. Our count was 11 and I won’t be surprised if we missed some – they seem to be popping up all over the place.
Our original plan was to sample some java and each of these joints but time and caffeine jitters didn’t allow for it. That being said, we thought we would delve into what has become “Coffee Culture” and why coffee based shops have become increasingly popular.
According to the ever informative Wikipedia, “Coffee Culture is the set of traditions and social behaviors that surround the consumption of coffee, particularly as a social lubricant. The term also refers to the cultural diffusion and adoption of coffee as a widely consumed stimulant. In the late 20th century, espresso became an increasingly dominant drink contributing to coffee culture, particularly in the Western world and other urbanized centers around the globe.” Another thing that we found very interesting is that the culture surrounding coffee and coffeehouses dates back to 16th-century Turkey and Old Town welcomed it’s very own Turkish Coffee Lady (literally) shop to the fold earlier this year.
Trying to pinpoint exactly why the coffee shop craze continues to evolve, we consulted the coffee experts at coffeeteaimagazine.com and here is an abbreviated list of 10 reasons why. We found a *few of them pretty entertaining:
You’re Getting Coffee
Whether it’s how you start your morning or how you keep on pushing into the afternoon, coffee is one of the most popular daily beverages.
You’re Getting a Caffeine Fix
You were doing so well this morning until you blacked out. The next thing you know, you’re standing in line and it’s your turn to order. After you drink coffee, the caffeine is absorbed into your bloodstream. From there, it travels to your brain. Many controlled studies in humans show that coffee improves various aspects of brain function — including memory, mood, vigilance, energy levels, reaction times and general mental function. So by drinking coffee people not just boost their energy level, but also their mood, concentration and memory.
You’re Getting Breakfast
We all live in a rush and getting breakfast in a coffee shop seems more like reality nowadays, rather than a caprice. So on the way to work you always have warm breakfast and hot cup of coffee. There are so many breakfast options available nowadays from McDonalds to upscale cafes
You’re Stalking Your Barista Crush*
Like in any other business, your frontline employees are your business’s prime connection to the customer. They not only make the coffee, they have a huge role in determining the culture of your business. It does little good to spend a fortune on the best coffee if the person making the cup makes a poor-quality latte or is surly to the customers. A friendly, skilled barista at a coffee shop can be a huge asset to your coffee shop.
You’re Doing Some Studying
It’s test day and you’re sipping on some cold brew, organizing your flashcards, going over the study guide and listening to a lecture you found on YouTube. In fact, sitting next to someone busily typing away can increase your own concentration and mental effort.
You Like the Vibe
You’re an artist/creative of some kind and this is where your best ideas manifest onto paper. There’s just something about the smell and energy of a coffee shop that gets your creative juices flowing. You somehow managed to drag out sipping a single 50 cent shot of espresso to 4 hours so they don’t ask you to leave, which is honestly impressive.
You Don’t Have Internet
One more situation that we have all faced: no WiFi at home and all the neighbors’ have password harder than 12345678. In this situation there is only one option: going out for a cup of coffee and unlimited Internet access in a neighborhood café.
You Want Instagram Likes*
Many of you are working through adulthood in the 21st century and social media is a huge part in today’s social interaction. That is why many people see it as a part of their (not necessarily real) self-identity and as a stepping stone to advance their modelling/singing/designer/hair dressing career. What better way to do it than ordering two cappuccinos by yourself to make the picture seem like you’re with someone, throw a Hudson filter on it (or even go all the way with VSCO), then add the hashtag #PicOfTheDay or #FoodPorn? You may leave 5 minutes later, but self-branding game on level.
You’re on a Business Meeting
Business isn’t just conducted while at work. It can happen anywhere. Even before WeWork appeared, people were seeking less official and uptight work atmosphere. So they do not only work in coffee shop but also have job interviews or business negotiation meetings. As a social hub, the coffee shop gives you a feeling of a community working together rather than two separate sides discussing their terms, which makes people more open and willing to perceive other views and ideas.
You’re on a First Date*
You finally got her/his number and it’s time to meet in real life (unless you met each other for the first time offline and not in Tinder). The plan is to go to an artisan coffee shop so your date knows you’re cool. Choose wisely or you just might lose your potential coffee mate.
Café du Soleil
215 South Union Street
107 North Fairfax
1012 King Street
1101 King Street
For Five Coffee
1800C Diagonal Road
900 King Street
#6 Prince Streeet
106 North Lee Street
Turkish Coffee Lady
1001 King Street
1609 King Street
110 South West Street