Coffee shops

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

I love coffee shops– especially local ones.

Of course, a Starbucks near me has good drinks and can be aesthetically pleasing, but non-chain, local coffee shops always have my heart to a higher degree.

A local coffee shop is like a home away from home. The regulars and the employees are like a family. It’s like an unspoken agreement– the acquaintanceship and company that people you know but at the same time don’t know provide. It’s a public place, but a coffee shop is also intimately each customer’s own. It’s a little community. Everyone fits in, and not necessarily because they’re all the same. Even standing out means to fit in.

Coffee shops are museums of people– some more open than others, but everyone with something to offer of their humanity.

I love how local coffee shops have their own spin and uniqueness compared to chain ones; they have their own array of consumable items and art. There’s just something to homey about them and I really love how each one has their own story.

And of course, there is coffee. Now I’m not a huge coffee drinker and I’m not one of those “coffee first, then I start my day” people. I don’t need coffee. But it sure is nice to sip on the yumminess that is the bittersweet mix of a fresh coconut latte or hazelnut mocha to complement my writing, reading and working. And there is good tea, too. I love being embraced the refreshing heat and taste of peppermint tea; it is quite calming.

Photo by Nolan Issac on Unsplash
Photo by Emily Rudolph on Unsplash

And there is the bakery aspect. I don’t have a huge sweet tooth– but I have a few exceptions, and most of those exceptions have to do with chocolate. And then the bagels– oh, the bagels. I miss starting my day (or afternoon) with a big, fluffy, full bagel sandwich with egg, pesto, tomato and cream cheese stuffed into it.

Photo by Mae Mu on Unsplash

With quarantine, I’m really missing my coffee shop routines. Throughout college, I’ve made myself home in many of my college town’s local coffee shops. It’s primarily where I got my schoolwork done. I loved settling into a cozy-cushioned couch and reading a good book. And I loved journaling and writing while watching cars zoom by in the night through the coffee shop windows.

Photo by Biel Morro on Unsplash

I really miss sitting in front of coffee shop windows and car and people watching. I miss having the simultaneous solitude that came with being around company.

I miss meeting up with my friends over a good bagel or drink and having meaningful conversations, or catching up with an old friend. I long for early mornings of my sophomore, junior and senior years where I would settle into the comfort of the conversations between the barista and the espresso machines, the conversation of my tapping foot on the wooden floor.

I miss running into people I know, and I miss meeting people new to me. I miss the flow of conversations and laughter around me.

I miss the magic of coffee shops.

Photo by Tomas Jasovsky on Unsplash

One of my best friends and I became best friends through our continuous, coincidental running into each other at a coffee shop. I got my first date at a coffee shop. I’ve had great conversations with strangers. I’ve become friends with baristas.

I have great memories with friends within the walls of local coffee shops. And I have not-so-pleasant memories, too, with tears and heartbreak. With final papers and looming deadlines.

I have history within the walls of those shops.

I wonder what it will be like when I revisit them years later. Will my ghost of undergrad come to greet me? Will she embrace me and take me back to being 20 again? Will the aroma of a certain kind of latte or muffin overwhelm my senses with nostalgia of an aching and beautiful familiarity?

As I wait for this quarantine to be over, I wait to discover new local coffee shops. I embed memories and the familiarity of Blacksburg ones into my heart. I long to walk into a coffee shop on a Saturday morning and sit down and continue working on my latest novel, or a blog post. I long to sit across a friend over a hot cup of coffee or hot cocoa while we converse and write together on a sunny fall afternoon or winter evening.

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