Perhaps it is the years I spent living in New York that taught me to treat coffee shops as though they were an extension of my home. Anyone who has lived in that city for any length of time, and especially in their young and poor years, knows that most living situations there are far from ideal. Apartments are usually small, often cramped and quite frequently dark and crowded with variety of animals (domestic and otherwise) and roommates (domestic and otherwise). That’s why New Yorkers love their cafés. Go to any coffee shop and you’ll see the locals parked at tables strewn with books, journals, computers and tablets, sandwich wrappers and coffee cups. I remember it well. The table (preferably with a nearby power outlet) becomes a desk, the café’s sitting room your office, your fellow patrons your colleagues. Since then, I have never lost my love for whiling away the hours in a coffee shop and, when I lived in Italy, it was one of the things I missed most (nota bene: the Italians may have the world’s best coffee culture, but they have no café culture to speak of, at least not in the way we envision it).
Yesterday, my personal mission to complete my mental map of the world’s coziest and most welcoming coffee shops took us to Fredericksburg, VA. Today, it takes us to Lexington, also in Virginia, which I visited last summer, not long after I’d come back to America. It is a university town, so I expected to find a café of the sort I love. I wasn’t disappointed.
When I first walked into the Lexington Coffee Shop, I couldn’t wait to choose a mug and go up to the bar to order my coffee.
Then, however, I looked a little closer. What a marvelous idea! As an out-of-towner, I felt a little left out of the fun. However, if I were a local, I can think of nothing better than to know my mug was waiting for me at my favorite coffee shop. After my New York café experiences, I like nothing so much as to be able to think of my neighborhood coffee shop as a kind of detached annex to my home, and having my own mug there all the time would certainly do the trick. Perhaps, if I go back there, I’ll bring one along just for the heck of it. When you find a good place somewhere in the world, even if chances are slim that you’ll return, it’s always nice to know you’ll be welcome. A mug on a hook with my name on it, so to speak, would sure do the trick.
Until next time, stay cozy and stay caffeinated!
Oh, and by the way, if you take a stroll around town once the weather clears, you’ll find that the Lexington shop owners have a talent for… unusual window-dressing.