Coffee is my beverage of choice. I drink it black with no sugar, a habit I picked up in the army decades ago. At home, I make do with Maxwell House French Roast brewed in a Black and Decker single cup device, but the end product there lags far behind what I get outside the home. Whether from a gas station or Dunkin Donuts, store bought coffee always tastes better. But my favorite place for coffee in Lowell is Brew’d Awakening Coffeehaus on Market Street. Not only is the coffee uniformly excellent, but Brew’d is a traditional coffee house where you can linger with your newspaper, have a meeting out of the office, or just engage in a spontaneous discussion on the issues of the day with your fellow coffee-drinkers.
Last week’s New York Times magazine had an article about a trend amongst independent coffee houses in New York City to ban the use of electronic devices such as laptops, Kindles and iPads. It seems too many patrons were turning tables into full-time offices which I can see might be a problem. But as the article’s author, Virginia Heffernan, points out, banning an iPad or a Kindle is like banning a book or a newspaper (the paper versions of which are not banned).
Hopefully there’s some middle ground that allows reasonable use of electronic devices in New York (NOTE: there’s no such prohibition here in Lowell) but the main reason I mention this article is the way Heffernan describes what I would call “coffee house culture.” She says
Unwholesome things have always happened wherever people drink coffee together. They gossip and complain about powerful jerks; they read, write and scheme about their own comebacks. On the sidelines of those conversations — muttering, silently judging, chiming in — have always been loners who loiter with books and newspapers all day, ready to be recruited into conversation. This might come as hard news to would-be restaurateurs looking only to taste that sweet margin of coffee markup, but loiterers and readers must be part of the cafe equation. People who sit at bars are going to make out and brawl; people who sit in cafes are going to read and talk.
So as the snow banks recede and it becomes easier to find parking or to walk, pay a visit to your local cafe, whether it’s Brew’d Awakening, the nearby Coffee Mill, Dunkin Donuts, or any other place that allows you to buy a good cup of coffee and linger over a newspaper or a conversation.