Writers & Coffee Shops

Why are writers drawn to coffee shops? Is it the need for caffeine, or maybe the ambiance? Perhaps it’s due to the feeling we are supposed to write in places like that, since many other writers do so.

For me it’s the smells. If you’ve read many of my posts you already know I despise the taste of coffee, but the smell, oh man, it’s amazing. There is a comforting feeling being in a place where coffee fragrance fills up the building. If only the stuff tasted as good as it seems like it would. Don’t lecture me, we all know coffee is an acquired taste.

I’m not sure why the scent impacts me so much but I have a theory. My parents drank coffee every morning when I was young. When I was old enough they started sending me to the kitchen to get them a refill, and eventually make the coffee and bring the first cup. Little kids are weird so I thought this was practically an honor.

Eventually I got to the point where it was a hassle and I started playing tricks.My mom never once thought it was funny when I ‘tripped’ and threw an empty mug at her. She fell for it every time. My dad, well I only did it a few times to him (daddy’s girl here), but he hated it and thought it was funny so it wasn’t worth it. It made for great memories, for me. I imagine my mom still doesn’t find it amusing.

My dad passed away when I was 15 and I hadn’t brought him coffee in years but I still associate the smell with bringing him and my mom their morning cup. I think about standing near the counter and watching the percolator, amazed at how it worked. I remember the smiles and thanks and feeling important.

So maybe I started coming to coffee shops because I heard it worked for other writers but I keep coming because it works for me. I get funny looks because I order hot tea but it tastes great and gives me my caffeinated fuel. Being judged for not drinking coffee even gave me a story called The Secret!

Of course, I can’t forget the people watching aspect. Already this morning I’ve been fascinated by the behavior of three different people. One was a woman who was clearly angry but trying to hold it in and possibly not take it out on the staff. Another was actually a family of four. I don’t know what happened but they came in with smiles and walked up to the counter. After a moment the dad looked angry and they all left, with the mom and two kids looking embarrassed. I’m pretty sure there is a story brewing after seeing that.

The most interesting was a man who came in looking exhausted. He never stopped moving. He paced for a while then when he sat down he fidgeted. His head swiveled around as if he was looking at everyone in the place but when his eyes reached me I could tell he didn’t see me. When they called his name a couple of the people working chatted with him, asking why he hadn’t been in for so long. Even his voice sounded tired as he told them his wife had just had a baby. Ah!

The poor thing leaned on the counter, which meant he stopped moving. It was clearly a mistake. He looked like he was going to fall over. His knees buckled a bit but he shook it off, showed off pictures of his child and left. I hope he made it safely home! There is also a story in my head after watching him.

Some of my best writing happened in coffee shops so I will continue to be a typical writer and hang out in these places.

To any other writers out there, if you work in coffee shops, what are your reasons? To any who don’t do this, I highly recommend it. Bring your headphones and enjoy!

Photo by Ryan McGuire. Go check out his work, it’s amazing!

Sidenote: I almost titled this post: Writers & Coffee Shops –  A Love Story.

Hot Tea Adventures

Why is a good cup of tea so hard to find? Unfortunately, for me, the only places to get hot tea (away from home), are coffee shops. Of course those places are not going to have a large selection of not-coffee, but it makes me sad. Even the places that say “coffee and tea” in their name only tend to have adequate hot tea. I love going into places like that to write because even though I don’t drink coffee, I think it smells divine. There is something about that aroma that speaks to my muse and brings my creativity out.

I’m not asking much. I drink plain black tea, typically named British breakfast or English tea time. I’m not asking for adventurous flavors or strange mixes. Just a good strong, wonderful cup of regular tea, and some sugar please.

I’m sure some of you reading this know of places that I would kill to visit but while I don’t live in a small town, I don’t live in a big city with a lot of choices either. We have many Starbucks, which I have always thought was only alright, but they recently changed brands of tea, to a less desirable one.

I’ve been to a bookstore in town that has a cafe inside it. They have great tea, amazing, perfect, exactly the flavor I want. The problem is I keep the exact tea at home and I can drink that whenever I want. Plus I don’t really care for the place. It’s tolerable but it gets rather loud because it’s across the street from a high school.

There is a local coffee shop here that previously only had a few choices in flavors and none of them were for me. I was confused as to why they didn’t have a plain option. This was particularly a downer because the place is great, especially for writing. The atmosphere is soothing and the people really try to make sure you have a good experience. It’s nice and quiet too. It’s too bad the tea I tried tasted like flowers.

A couple of weeks ago I went to their website, on the off-chance that they added new flavors, and was astonished to find they added a tea I could drink! I couldn’t get there fast enough. I went in, dragging my husband and looked at the cute tea menu they had set up. Want to guess what wasn’t on it? As my kids say: FML. I asked if they had the flavor I wanted and the guy working said they decided not to carry that one anymore. They only had it for a few months so I was quite surprised. He suggested another tea that was the closest to regular black tea. I looked up the ingredients online and found that it contained blueberries. I’m allergic to salicylates, found in pretty much every berry and most fruits, hence the pickiness about tea flavors. I left sad. I sent them an email today about it, which is why this is all on my mind. I may have pleaded for them to keep serving the one I can drink. 🙂

There are two more places for me to try, but they are tiny and each time I’ve gone, both were so busy there were lines out the door and I never made it in.

Maybe I merely need to try coffee again and force myself to like it. Nah, the mental block is too strong for that. Read The Surgery if you want an explanation of my weirdness about coffee. For now I go to the coffee and tea cafe in the local supermarket and drink the adequate stuff when I want to get out and write.

There is a small ray of tea hope on the horizon. A new place is opening sometime later this year. I hear they will have a better brand but I’ll believe that once I’m addicted.

Do I have to give up my writer status if I don’t drink coffee?

If you think my being overly selective over tea is bad, wait until you hear about the ongoing search for the right flavor of gum each time they discontinue the ones I like!