Where Are All the Little Coffee Shops?
When I lived in the Upstate, I was within 10 minutes of some of the cutest, calmest, most comforting coffee shops in the world. One of them was part bookstore, part coffee shop. They had the best homemade cakes and muffins. I liked to set up shop at one of the tables near the books. I felt like I was surrounded by friends as I worked. If I kept one ear open, I could also get all the latest gossip from our little tri-town area.The owners went through an acrimonious divorce and the shop suffered the fallout. It closed. I still grieve over loss, even though I no longer live there.
Up the road in Tryon there was a coffee/sandwich shop run by a sweet New Zealander gentleman. He also sold homemade ice cream in a variety of unique flavors. It was made with rich, heavy cream. I refuse to consider how many calories was in a single (generous) serving. He always played the kind of music I like to listen to when I write – the kind that eases you into the “zone” and helps you stay there.
His wife opened a similar shop practically across the street from my home in Landrum. I loved the days I was able to claim the table by the front window where I could keep one eye on the action outside. She brought a companion with her to work – Binger, the Maltese pup. What more could a woman want? Homemade ice cream, a window seat, and a puppy to boot?!
I haven’t seen a single Starbucks that could compare to any of these three shops. No, they weren’t as hip, I don’t guess. They were better than hip. They were original. I’m not sure I’d even be allowed in Starbucks anyway. For one, I don’t own a Mac. Can non-Apple users even work in a Starbucks? Second, I don’t drink coffee. Didn’t you notice above the highlights of those other shops – cakes, muffins, ice cream, sandwiches? I know Starbucks has other goodies, too. And I know their hot chocolate is yummy. (Their tea? Not so much so for me.) I’m not sure how many times I could get away with ordering hot chocolate and sneaking away to the corner to hide my Dell before I’m outed as an imposter.
So I sit in Panera – a pretty good alternative. But I do miss those small, quaint, quiet shops where I could lose myself in the atmosphere and in words. Surely somewhere in the Charleston/Summerville area some independent shop owner has stood its ground against the Starbucks on every corner. If I could just find it, I’d be their most faithful patron.
It would help if they had an assortment of homemade cakes, muffins, and ice cream, too!