Years ago we had a quaint coffee shop in our town. It was called Blue Cup. It wasn’t here when we moved here, twenty years ago. But, with-in a few years, as our town experienced some of the most rapid growth in the State of Wisconsin, this local cafe opened and quickly became iconic.
For me, it was a local haunt, several times a week. I would use their drive up, or I would park and go in to get my coffee, just to chat with the owner or a friend of mine who worked there for a while. Soon, I started meeting friends there. Susan and I met to discuss the needs of TAG students in our district. It was the place I first met my friend Peggy to discuss the intellectual similarities of our sons. Meetings were held there for our TAG parent group sub-committee when we needed to formulate mission and vision statements or decide on the trajectory for the coming year. After several years, I met teacher and librarian friends there in the summer for coffee and chatting about the state of education or other community events. Several artist friends had their work featured in the cafe. I even met brief acquaintances there for coffee on occasion, such as another Master Gardener or another local seamstress who was starting her own business. In short, Blue Cup was a wonderful gathering place. It had great coffee, good food, and comfortable seating. It was cozy and a place the owner would let you hang out for a couple of hours with only buying a single cup of coffee. Blue Cup is where I learned to enjoy a latte and what the difference was between that and a Breva.
Unfortunately, Blue Cup closed. I miss it.
Recently, I have been trying new coffee shops in the area and have decided on the characteristics such a place must have in order for me to be a frequent visitor. During school, I often went to Caribou Coffee in a neighboring town. I liked it there to do some school work that did not require silent contemplation to be completed. But, still, it was noisy some of the time. I began dreading seeing one of the employees working when I arrived because of the big, booming (but, cheerful) voice he had. I found it hard to concentrate on anything if he was on shift. And, it does get crowded. I still meet a friend there regularly for coffee and tea but since I’m done with school, I don’t frequent it as much. In addition, there is no drive-up. But, I will say that their coffee and lattes are consistently good.
There are some smaller coffee places that are more local. Java Vino on the Southside is the largest of the smaller places. It is a full service restaurant with organic, fair trade, and imported coffees. But, it can be busy and I find it slightly less personal because it is so large inside. Still, one can be comfortable going there alone and enjoying a cup o’ Joe.
There’s a Cabin Coffee downtown that I went to the first time in February and was just there again for a work related meeting. It’s a very pleasant place for a coffee chain. I like the cabin decor and their meeting room works well for our purposes. But, I don’t see going often because it is not near to where I live.
Another place I had a work related meeting was MOKA. The coffee was good but it seemed slightly cramped and not very cozy. I do not think I would frequent this establishment much either, again, due to its location and also the lack of ambiance.
Then, there was Bean Juice. I believe that this coffee shop has been around for most of the time we’ve lived here. However, despite the length of the establishment being close to twenty years, I just went for my first time to get to know a fellow educator and do some brainstorming. Bean Juice was her pick of where to go and I am glad I got to experience the cafe. It is quaint and kind of artsy, reminiscent of Blue Cup. It also seemed to draw a very local crowd. I’d probably frequent Bean Juice more often if I lived closer to it! I do like the name, and my latte was delicious!
So, for me, the coffee establishment that I choose to “hang out” at must have the following characteristics: 1) great coffee and lattes, 2) be close to where I live, and 3) be cozy. We do have a new coffee establishment in our town, near to where Blue Cup was. I’ve only been twice. It was not a good fit for me, but they seem busy and I wish them the best. Every town needs a great place to meet friends, have some great discussions, and drink a favorite beverage!