Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Ode to Coffee Shop Writing {part one}

via Pixabay--not a representation of coffee shops discussed below
If you come to my little corner of the earth, I'll take you on a coffee shop tour and we can write together. These are shops sweet friends have introduced me to, and all of them hold beloved memories, thanks to them.

{the modern place}
Just up the street from a donut shop and an antique store, you'll find a little coffee place tucked in a row of shops. On a sunny day, broad windows let a welcome tide of sunlight pour over wood-topped tables. Your wallet will come out a little lighter price-wise. But in exchange, you'll receive a thick ceramic cup with a beautiful black finish, filled with something creamy and nice. It's one of those mugs you'd cradle in your hands in a classic Instagram coffee snap; a mug full of simple cocoa, with latte hearts drawn in the foam. So full, in fact, that you do one of those slow walks back to the table, trying to keep it from sloshing.

My favorite part about this coffee shop is the little, raised seating area--the couple of tables and a sofa in their own railed corner, where you have to walk up a step to get to them. Every once in a while you can look up for a perfect view of the other customers. Someone else working on their laptop. A son and his elderly mother enjoying a visit at a window table. While the sun shines in, this coffee shop offers a grand place to think and work. A grand place for typing on a laptop. A grand place to plug in the headphones and listen to Hugh Jackman singing "A Million Dreams" on repeat. It's the perfect spot to chase your ambitions in introverted solitude.

{the bookstore beanery}
Another favorite coffee shop is not really a coffee shop at all. It's a cafe tucked into a bookshop. These tables are white-topped with bright orange and green seats. Posters by the gray-walled ordering counter offer suggestions from three authors for various drink and snack combinations. Here you can order a lovely latte: Paris tea by Harney and Sons coupled with raspberry syrup. Or, if you'd rather, you can buy tea for a dollarish and take a steamy warm disposable cup back to your table.

Perhaps it is the air inside the bookshop, or perhaps it is being away from cozy armchairs at home. Whatever the reason, I always seem to find a special ability to concentrate here. This beanery found me in company with The Afters' joyous lyrics while accepting editor changes like crazy on War of Loyalties last fall. An added perk: when you need a break, there's a dangerous break to be had browsing through bookshelves of mark-down, used, or new books. It's an easy place to reward yourself for hitting an editing goal--or even just to grab a quick drink to keep you fueled along the writing way.

{the antique bank}
If you really want atmosphere, my favorite place is a little coffee shop squished between other shops in a rather old part of town. Just past a Little Caesar's pizza, you'll find a made-over bank building. The windows are small; the walls are dark, plastered with artwork ranging from vintage to weird, and if you look up, the copper ceiling tiles offer a delightful aesthetic. If you're lucky, you'll get a table for two along the wall with a green-topped desk light. If you're not, you'll have to content yourself with a table in the middle, watching like a hawk for a wall plug to open up. Sustenance for a precious laptop is always a key concern. Here you'll have slim working space in the busy midst of all sorts of people--lone college students staring into laptop screens. A man and woman on a date. A group of college students discussing faith. Outside, you might even find a game of Monopoly in progress on a summer night at the sidewalk tables.

Here you can get any drink you want at the counter. But beware. Up on the shelf with the syrups, there's a golden urn with a placard bearing the inscription "Ashes of Difficult Customers." As long as you're not difficult, you'll be quite all right. Here you can order brownies or lemon poppyseed scones; French sodas with a multiplicity of flavor options; boba tea (I haven't tried that yet); or something tasty from a long list of lattes. Here you'll find chai lattes hot and sweet, or a quick packet of tea if you're on a budget. And when you've chosen (it can take a long time to choose) you take your disposable coffee cup back to a green-topped table. In company with your drink, you can write by hand in a notebook or hang out with Scrivener and a playlist. Or perhaps, best of all, sit and chat with a friend to fill your creative well.

There are more coffee shop experiences to chronicle in another blog post. But these three places, which have seen editing and dreaming, conversations and happy days, are the places we'll go when we have a writing vacation sometime.


  1. Loved this post!! It was so whimsical and awesome. All these places sound so amazing! We have a new communal workspace that a friend opened downtown and it's super cute, so I've been going there. That's about it for me, though! xP Thanks for sharing. :)

    1. Aw, thank you!! That sounds like a fun place to go. (BTW, I hope you have an amazing writing retreat this weekend!)


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