Monday, February 23, 2009
Off to Dunn Brothers, a 15 minute jaunt from my house. I have been rather wimpy this winter, not getting outside as much, in part because of the extreme weather, but also when the kids were younger I made it a point to get them outside regularly. The sun angle has shifted and I feel spring around the corner even if I'm still wearing my down coat. At 10am the place is buzzing. Not the line up at the door one finds Monday at 8:45am but most seats are claimed except those in the blazing sunshine next to the front door. It's a good thing they have double doors because of the constant flow of people in and out. People are accompanied by books, laptops, other people and sometimes all three. There is a 50/50 split with gender. The place draws from Macalaster which is across the street and other nearby colleges. It also attracts locals who live or work nearby. The intersection of Snelling and Grand acts much the same as the original junctions that brought people together alongside rivers in ancient times. Although the tables are packed in pretty tight, people seem adept at keeping their personal bubble despite the jostling of chairs and coats and reaching over one another to plug in laptops. The background music is unobtrusive and the coffee grinder and espresso machine keep peoples conversations muted while creating the atmosphere of activity, again not unlike the old fashioned appeal of the waterfront unloading of docks or the market stand. There is a coffee shop etiquette of friendliness alongside productivity. People like myself, come here to recreate with a purpose, perhaps avoiding domestic chores or too restless to get down to business without the external hum of activity. For the most part the dress is very casual except for the occasional interview and those who pick up coffee for the commute. The coffee is always excellent, creating a dedicated following. This sense of community is akin to a religious experience, not unlike receiving communion. We enter the neighborhood coffee house, it feels like a haven from the outer world, we wait in line, when we receive our individually prepared cup, it feels like a gift, and then we get to fix it up just the way we like it to meet our particular taste. We get to enjoy a communal moment while also expressing our individuality. It is no accident that coffee has made its way around the world, a cross-cultural bond and a mood lifter you can count on.