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.
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.
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.
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.