Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Place, Time and Coffee.

c. David Grim (taken 11/29/10)

I'm in the unfortunate position of having to look for a new coffee shop. It's not that I have to completely jettison the one I've been patronizing for months, but rather that I need to find one to supplement the existing offerings. The problem is that Lili has changed its hours, and now shuts down at 6PM all week. This might not sound tragic, but for me it pretty much limits my visits to once or twice every seven days or so. I was getting into the habit of stopping in with my son (the place is remarkably kid friendly), and then naturally following that up with solo visits whenever I could.

The rub is that I work regular hours, and I usually wait until after rush hour to head out for the evening. I definitely feel more comfortable with a schedule. I like the idea of having something to look forward to every day. And I also feel that spontaneity and serendipity tend to be maximized whenever parameters are in place. Otherwise I get overwhelmed by the possibilities, and that can lead to paralysis. So when a hole opens up it tends to threaten to morph into an abyss. I quickly look to fill in these booby traps.

So my first step was to hit the Internet and explore the options. I made a short list of places that I want to check out in the coming weeks. I don't necessarily need to fulfill all my needs in one location, but I definitely need a spot to bring E. on Mondays and a shop to relax and write whenever I'm on my own. And I already hit the chains about as much as I'm willing to. I'm looking for character, comfort and ambiance.

As I write this, I'm experiencing Espresso a Mano (3623 Butler Street) for the very first time. This coffee shop has beckoned to me in the past, but the one time I stopped by before it was closed despite its posted hours (it's open until 9PM every day but Sunday). After that I just stuck to the easy familiar options... until now, as circumstances have dictated. I'm actually quite pleased by the atmosphere. There is a nice corner in the back with comfy sectional pieces that I can lounge in with my laptop. The coffee tastes good, and the art on the walls is interesting (currently it is a collection of tastefully framed obscured nudes). The lighting is cozy and effective.

I already know I'll be returning here again. But I wonder how appropriate it is to bring my 3-year old son. The barrista on duty assures me that this isn't a library, and my kid is definitely welcome. That goes a long way with me. This guy has already gone out of the way to make me feel comfortable even though he's never seen me before. And I'm looking pretty ratty today. Espresso a Mano is promising... It's experiences like this that make exploring the options satisfying.

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