The search is on
It is seven a.m. in Columbus Ohio. I am strolling with intent through a gentrifying neighborhood towards my first cup of coffee of the day. My oldest son is still asleep a few blocks away. I am in town to visit him. A few days ago, I texted him because I envisioned this scenario. He prefers tea and I knew I would be up earlier than he would be . In response he told me there was a coffee place a few blocks away where I could go for my coffee fix.
I had lived in this very neighborhood when I was his age. It is “nicer” now. As the walk clears my mind, I wonder about how our lives take shape. Are we in charge of our lives at all? Are there clearly defined ends and beginnings? I don’t want to get too heavy before my first cup of coffee but when I walked these streets over two decades ago, I never dreamed I would have a son, let alone three other (now) adult children.
In the spirit of beginnings, journeys and paths I am starting a random but regular series of posts focused on my visits to coffee establishments of all kinds. The title of this series is “Searching for The 3 Grove Cafe”( The Pandemic put this on hold for now, obviously). The address is that of the house where I grew up. Baked into that title is the hope of discovering a place so perfect it doesn’t exist. It carries the hope, wish and desire that I can find childhood again. The hope of rediscovering a carefree summer day in the old neighborhood running from green lawn to green lawn with childhood friends who, in my mind and with me, stay forever young. Where was I? Oh, yea. Beginnings. Why not make the first post in the series about the coffee place that started my lifelong romance with great coffee. That would be Sta- no, no, no…Not them!...Stauf’s, right here in Columbus, Ohio.
The doors open
The doors opened for me and the less important general public at seven a.m. By this time, the two baristas have spent at least a half an hour prepping Cup o’ Joe for the long Saturday ahead. This reminded me that a person currently reading Tripio, and there are a few out there, had remarked to me earlier this week that she was amazed at how much went into getting a coffee shop opened. In the case of Tripio, it would have been a Starbucks in Lincoln Park in Chicago in 1992. The coffee doesn’t’ brew itself. The espresso bar does not prime nor test itself. The pastries don’t deliver themselves.
At Cup o’ Joe on this Saturday morning the opening work had mostly all been done. I had chosen my drip of the day which would turn out to be a wonderfully berry like Ethiopian Yergacheffe. As I waited for it to cool a bit, I watched one barista water the plants and say his hellos to the Saturday regulars. One of the regulars requested that the fireplace to be turned on. Once the fireplace was on, he assumed a seat, feet facing it, and opened his book. There were as many books as laptops in attendance as the day started.
I forgave the book readers for not having selected Tripio, and read the local coffee house periodicals. Here, I find the most interesting events and places. Nearly all coffee houses have a selection of these locally produced papers and they can’t be beat for obtaining the “feel” of a certain city, or if that city is large enough, a certain neighborhood. I found an article in one of the mags on a coffee house not too far away called Cafe Kerouac. Hell yes. That sounded like a good spot for my afternoon cup of coffee.
On the Roads
A wonderful memory hit me just them. I had given my ancient copy of On the Road to my oldest son many years ago. The same son I was now visiting. So fitting. So many paths. I felt great about my life then and there at Cup o’ Joe, whose coffees are roasted by Stauf’s, where my own coffee journey began, a long time before my son was starting his journey in this world.
Damn, started rambling again. I may have had too much coffee while writing this post. Be that as it may, lets’ get back to how much more I know about coffee than you. My heritage barista’s look inside the bean is: Next time you get to a coffee house as it opens, appreciate that the barista or baristas have already been there working for some time to get your coffee ready. Remember also that these baristas have to make a coffee drink for themselves. So, if the shop isn’t completely ready when you step in, be patient. After all, if the baristas aren’t drinking the coffee they serve then you may want to head somewhere else.