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What We Need: A Downtown Coffee Shop

Coffee, Kaffee, Kopi, Café, Koffie, Kafes, Kave, Koohi, Кафе, Kape, Kafe – the word for the refreshing beverage seems to be international. However, the meaning we put into it varies a lot.

Mmmm... coffee!

Mmmm… coffee!

I come from a “coffee shop culture”.  Bulgarians love their espresso – double, to wake you up in the morning; normal, to pick you up after lunch, long (with more water) to keep you energized in the afternoon. Going out for coffee is a ritual, and it doesn’t include just the simple act of purchasing a steaming cup of goodness. In summer the street cafes are bustling with life, where friends meet to catch up, relax, gather up some sun rays, show off their new outfits, and people watch. The usual espresso normally goes with creamer and coke, but the menus also feature Milk with Nescafe, Cappuccino, Macchiato, Marocchino, Latte, Mocha and the refreshing Frappe. Café hopping is not an uncommon activity – walking from one coffee shop to another, switching between tea and coffee during the cold winter days, and beer and cocktails in the hot summer evenings. From teenagers to sweet little grannies, we all love to go for coffee and meet up with friends. My grandma is 85 and still goes out every Thursday with her girlfriends for a short walk and some coffee (decaf, since she the caffeine giver her jitters 😉 For us, Bulgarians, going for coffee is a social experience, a way to unwind after a busy day at work, a reason to go out, a simple pleasure, a daily routine, a custom,  a part of life.

Early morning in Yambol, Bulgaria: A street cafe in front of the theatre, awaiting its customers.

Early morning in Yambol, Bulgaria: A street cafe in front of the theatre, awaiting its customers.

Imagine then, what was my disappointment to come to the Midwest and discover that people’s idea for coffee is flavoured brown water (admit it, it’s true), and that true coffee shops are a rarity. Unless you live in a really big city, small cosy coffee shops are a rare find in this vast fast-food populated land. And when you do encounter one, you treasure it. I remember when I was still fresh in the country, we were driving and my husband made a wrong turn and found ourselves parked in front of a cafe I convinced him to go in, and it felt like heaven. The smell of fresh ground coffee, the atmosphere, the people – all of that reminded me of home, and I did not want to leave. So when we discovered that Washington had a coffee shop on Main Street we could walk to, we knew that’s where we were buying a house. Three years later Mannwell’s is gone, and we really need a coffee shop in town.

A good cup of coffee: one of the simple pleasures in life.

A good cup of coffee: one of the simple pleasures in life.

I love visiting “Not Just Cut and Dried” on Elm Street and getting some freshly ground coffee for my espresso maker at home. Now, instead of meeting friends out for coffee, I invite them at home. “The Fudge Shoppe” is wonderful, but they have regular store hours, and their future seems to be uncertain. The new coffee shop opening on 14th and Jefferson sounds wonderful, however they are not downtown. What we need is a true coffee shop with a nice friendly atmosphere, WiFi, specialty coffees, cupcakes, cookies and healthy snacks, … and so many other things the Washington residents suggested on Facebook. Can a business sustain themselves on just coffee? No, but there is so much more that goes into a coffee shop and with a good business plan somebody can do the town a favor and open a new “meeting spot” for us. As with anything else, first you need the vision, then a plan of the steps on how to get there, some funding, lots of hard work, and the most essential: love for what you do.

Coffee goes well with so many other things: healthy sandwiches and soups, music, poetry readings, special events... friends.

Coffee goes well with so many other things: healthy sandwiches and soups, music, poetry readings, special events… friends. A coffee shop is so much more that a coffee selling establishment. 



About Slava

I am a twenty-something Bulgarian girl in the USA, re-discovering the world through the lens.


5 Responses to “What We Need: A Downtown Coffee Shop”

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more Slava!

    After working from home for close to 3 years in Lee’s Summit, I don’t know what I would have done without my coffee shops. I pretty much made them my office every day for several hours per day. Yes, I spent a lot of money, but it was worth every penny!

    The sad thing is that just before I left, the best one right next to my house closed. It almost makes me wonder, is it even possible to sustain a small downtown coffee shop in the days of Starbucks & Panera?

    Either way, if one opens, I’ll be there to support it!!!

    Posted by Bob (@Culture_Ninja) | August 7, 2013, 10:37 am
  2. I could not agree more with this piece. As a twenty-something myself, I am reacquainting myself with Washington after a long hiatus, and I also feel we need a shop that serves real coffee and tea (we all know the average Starbucks serves nothing of the sort, as they focus on the convenience, speed, and price of the product, not proper steeping and brewing…..shame, shame).

    Friends foreign to WashMo and I have made a bit of an observation that may put hope in your cause. I lived in Springfield, Missouri, for four years while attending university there. I lived within walking distance to much of that downtown area and found that it strangely mirrored places we have here.

    I had three favorite places and will reference what they reminded me of and why:
    Finnegan’s Wake (Marquardt’s Landing): The place to get some grub, meet some friends, watch the game, and experience the best people-watching because anyone who is smart and fun shows up here from time to time. Never a dull moment.
    Mud Lounge (The Old Dutch Tavern): The more low-key hangout to grab some delightfully and surprisingly trendy food (who knew WashMo had HUMMUS on a menu), enjoy a vintage atmosphere (who is not in love with Old Dutch’s ceiling fans??) and take part in a very extensive list of alcoholic drinks (The Dutch is the only place in town I know of that has anything Chimay, and that brings much happiness to my belly).
    Mud House (RIP Mannwell’s Coffee): The place to be cozy on a rainy or sunny day, grab some coffee, tea, tasty goodies, and chat with friends while you said you were doing homework but we all knew you were trolling Facebook, The Chive, Buzzfeed, and all the other things that are far more interesting than your advanced Biology Research paper. I would personally love if someone revived the Mannwell’s location. I thought it was perfect.

    So, see Washington? You are almost at the trifecta of trendy Downtown success, and you have a much prettier (and better smelling) atmosphere to house it. And with the growth of the town, I feel that it could happen. Washington has a much better city layout than Springfield anyway, and is way closer to St. Louis and Kansas City, for those lovely travelers.

    Posted by Sara Jane | August 8, 2013, 8:40 am
    • Awww!! Sara, your comment made my day!! Thank you so much!!! I couldn’t agree more with you – we have lots of potential and I am sure a coffee shop will happen soon! If you ever want to guest blog for Re-Discover Washington, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

      Posted by Slava | August 8, 2013, 9:58 am


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