Coffee Shops

Photo Credit: Gareth Weeks

I love coffee shops. Especially cool, local ones like this or this or this or this that know what they’re doing when it comes to coffee.

When Dexter and I were dating (at the stage where we didn’t call it dating…we were just hanging out as friends), we spent a lot of time at a particular coffee shop. I remember the first time he asked me out for coffee. We were talking on AOL Instant Messenger like we did every night (can you tell this relationship started in highschool in the early 2000s?) when he asked me if I wanted to “go out for some coffee or tea or something.” I shot away from the computer and ran up the stairs to ask my parents for permission. I practically rolled back down the stairs and typed in a “yes,” thankful that my breathlessness wasn’t audible to Dexter.

The next day, he picked me up in his really gross, homeless-man’s-home truck, and we spent about three hours sitting in uncomfortable chairs at little Sticks tables, in perfect happiness. As we drove back to my house, Dexter’s truck could barely shift gears. After a suspenseful but short ride, Dexter had to wait around my house for his mom and step dad to come help him with the truck. I don’t think that’s the way he had envisioned it going.

We got past that adventure and had many more coffee dates in the future. After one, he asked me to be his girlfriend. I said no. We got past that, too. A few months later, he asked me the same question at the coffee shop, and I said yes.

Now that we’re married and enslaved by debt, we’ve decided to cut back (but not eliminate) trips to the coffee shop.

Pros to the coffee shop:

  • No dogs, which for us means barking, no whimpering about needing a trip outside, and no 65 lb furry creature wanting to sit on your lap and lick your face while you’re trying to have a conversation.
  • No mess to clean up–someone else makes the coffee and the pastries, so my counters and dishes stay clean.
  • No junk on the table. I don’t know about you, but our kitchen table is a junk magnet.
  • Variety of choices. Say the word and you can have coffee, tea, cider, chocolate, sweet, plain, hot, or cold in a matter of five minutes. At home, that kind of variety requires a trip to the grocery store, which is not the ideal start to a relaxing coffee date.
  • No work required. Sometimes, I think making coffee and pastries is therapeutic and relaxing. Sometimes, I am so tired that the prep work makes it hard to enjoy sitting down with my husband and a cup of coffee.
  • Fresh roasted coffee…maybe. Depending on where you go, you might get old coffee shipped from out-of-state, OR you might get some small-batch roasted quality joe. And if you buy it here, it might be roasted by an extremely handsome man.

Cons to the coffee shop:

  • Ethical ingredients. Not all coffee shops have fair trade coffee and tea. I can’t think of a single one that uses cruelty-free dairy products. And, unfortunately, the chocolate your coffee shop uses is probably tainted.
  • Money. There are some inexpensive options at coffee shops. Like coffee. And tea. But unless you’re careful, your bill can add up quickly.
  • Comfort. Many coffee shops are crowded, so seating choices are limited. At home, your seating choices are only limited by the furniture you own. Also, at home, you won’t have loud obnoxious groups making noise that interrupts your conversation–unless you invite them over.
  • Privacy. Want to have a conversation about your marriage while having a cup of coffee? It’s a little awkward when you have a law student to your left and a bored-looking teenager to your right.
  • Too much variety. Sometimes, only having a few things to choose from is nice. You might need a training session with your local barista just to figure out what everything on the menu is.
  • Ingredient control. Avoiding high fructose corn syrup and trans fats? Some coffee shops offer pastries without these additives, however, it’s often difficult to find out what’s really in those baked goods.

In the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some tips I’ve learned that can make your at-home coffee shop experience a little more authentic. Hopefully, it’ll help you save money, eat and drink ethically, and enjoy delicious, coffee-shop quality treats.

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7 thoughts on “Coffee Shops

  1. Loved your blog, Kelsey! Esp. When my first thought was ‘No mess to clean up?’—thought about times @ JH when the amount of dishes left on tables after close was surprising. I have to work on my neg bitterness, and your post helped me to connect with what I thought about coffee shops before I worked in one. Where do you get cruelty-free milk? @ Co-op? Also, what’s this about tainted cocoa? I’m interested!

    • Funny about your mind jumping to the “no mess” thing. I worked at a coffee shop long enough to get irritated by that kind of thing, too. For the record, I ALWAYS clear my dishes off the table at coffee shops. 🙂 However, I enjoy not actually having to wash them or wash the dishes the pastries were made with! I buy Organic Valley milk at the Co-op. It’s expensive, and we didn’t start buying it until we both got salaried jobs. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have been eating much else. About chocolate–most of it’s grown by child slaves in West Africa. If you click the link on the word “tainted” above, it’ll take you to more information. Don’t read it if you’re not ready to be bummed out, though!

  2. I do love me a good coffee shop. And although this has nothing to do with that, we did just discover an organic, free range fast food restaurant here in Austin. And I think I might be able to find a rocking good coffee shop too. You know, in case you ever come to Texas for coffee.

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