Discussions at the coffee shop | Moment's Notice

By Maria Montalvo | Apr 01, 2017

This has been quite the week of news in Edmonds. Stories about a house fire, jarring discoveries by divers off Brackett’s landing, a train accident, burglary. International news was not good, and national news, well, even with a little good mixed in, I felt like I was watching a movie. It is disconcerting.

Perhaps a discussion over a cup of coffee is in order.

Everyone is themselves in a coffee shop. Couples talk about the mortgage, friends commiserate over a not-so-pleasant exchange with the boss or celebrate a good date.

Mothers and sons, fathers and daughters, sometimes comfortably happy (son talking rapidly and animatedly while his mom nods and smiles), sometimes reluctant and uncomfortable (a young girl of 11 or so playing with her green stirrer while her dad reads the paper).

Any one of us go there to discuss the ills of the world and the solutions that may or may not be so clear.

Downtown Edmonds has many coffee shops where, on any given morning, around a table at Walnut Street Coffee, Starbucks, Café Louvre, Red Twig, Waterfront Coffee Company, the town is talking.

Committee volunteers from every Edmonds group sit next to elected officials meeting with constituents, while unofficial coffee club members reliably arrive. Years ago, Zu Café chats changed the hearts and minds of many over a great croissant. Conversation is especially lively on the day after a council meeting.

I can’t believe he/she did/said that. What a crackpot. Worst idea in the world!

Even though I have an office in Edmonds, I revel in a good coffee klatch (and revel in saying that word) and value an environment that supports talking things out. Let’s hope the President does not try to close down the coffee shops like the King of England attempted back in 1675 to quell subversive political conversations, drawing “Idle and disaffected persons to them [and] produced very evil and dangerous effects.”

Women were not allowed in coffeehouses back then either, so I’d like to think they could have been even more radical.

When I travel, going out for coffee is a matter of necessity and discovery. In the States, I tend to support our Washington-based Starbucks on a work trip, but will drive out of my way to find a local business when on vacation.

Internationally, there is nothing better than sitting in a café in a foreign land and listening to the rest of the world have heart-to-hearts over love, politics, and the state of things (even if you cannot understand a word they say, you know).

In Buenos Aires, going for coffee is almost a religious experience, served with little cookies and seltzer water, and people sit for hours analyzing every bit of the newspaper.

And have you ever tried Thai or Turkish coffee, or a cortadito in Puerto Rico served with a quesito sweet pastry?

I’ll never forget our first cappuccino in Rome, surrounded by couples and families laughing and talking on a flower-covered balcony near the Spanish Steps.

A favorite simple memory was on a day in the typical scene in a coffee shop. Air pumped into milk, the banging of coffee grounds from espresso makers. My mom, dad and I have our scones. I leave to get the coffees, and when I return, my mom is reading the paper.

I say, “No reading the paper at the table at the coffee shop. We have to talk to each other.” We talked about everything and nothing.

On one of the many occasions I find myself walking through an airport for business, feeling alone and like the main character of “The Labyrinth of Solitude” (by Octavio Paz, a great read), I stopped at the C gate coffee shop.

“Quad tall nonfat cappuccino, please, with one raw sugar.” The woman at the counter smiled and said, “That drink is just like you, isn’t it, honey?”

I felt immediately transformed into a part of the human race again, standing in front of someone who could read me over a cup of coffee.


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