It shouldn’t surprise me that many of my happiest moments occur while I am sipping a cup of coffee. It is one of the reasons why I chose to call my blog “A Single Cup” and why the home page picture is of a beautiful cappuccino along with my journal. Whether it is standing at a coffee bar in Lisbon, Portugal with my friend Keirstin or sitting across the table from my friend Christine at Stories Coffeehouse here in Omaha, conversations just seem to flow so much better when there is a warm cup of coffee sitting on the table in front of you. Last night was one such treasured moment.
I hadn’t seen my friends Lara and Craig in a while. In fact the last time I saw them was at a reading that Lara was directing and Craig was running sound for, so we didn’t have time to chat beyond the quick “hi” and hug. Between all of our busy schedules it is often hard to find an evening or afternoon that works for all 3 of us, so last night we jumped at the chance to meet at Stories and catch up while listening to Chris Saub perform one of his amazing acoustic coffeehouse concerts. The evening was relaxed, the coffee hot and comforting, and the deserts were to die for. It was fun to introduce my friends to this welcoming place that feels like a second home to me. We sat in front of the fireplace and caught up while relaxing and listening to Chris, who is an old friend of theirs and one of my favorite local musicians.
The concept of the coffeehouse here in America is a little older than most of us probably realize. For many of us, we think of the rise of Starbucks as the “birth” of coffeehouses where you can sit and read or browse the internet, but this morning while waiting for my car to have it’s oil changed, I stumbled across an article in Smithsonian Magazine that talked about how the Roosevelt Family built a New York Coffeehouse chain 50 years before Starbucks! I was immediately intrigued. Theodore Roosevelt’s love for good coffee is a well known fact, but he passed this love to his children as well and in 1919, just a few years before prohibition, they opened up the first of what would eventually spread to four coffeehouses in New York. The coffeehouses served only the finest Brazilian coffee and each of the 30 small, oak tables contained a compartment stocked with ink, envelopes and paper inscribed with “Brazilian Coffee House”, the original name. They also kept encyclopedias and dictionaries on hand! The concept of an establishment that allowed patrons to sit and talk or write without being rushed was a novel idea at that time and caught on very quickly, especially after the rise of Prohibition. Three other locations soon followed and they became gathering places for a diverse group of people including actors, artists, journalists and musicians. Pretty cool stuff huh?
I’m not sure what it is about coffee (or even tea) that brings folks together, but I like it! Years ago when more women stayed at home, you would often here moms talk about going next door for a cup of coffee and often neighboring ladies would gather around the kitchen table for coffee and a bit of gossip. Nowadays we are more prone to meet somewhere outside of our homes, but the concept is still the same and that is to find a moment of time to relax and savor the aroma and taste of a good cup of coffee and the presence of a good friend.
If you would like to read the Smithsonian Magazine article, here is a link to the online version. I highly recommend that you take the time to read it, especially if you are a coffee and coffeehouse fan like me!