It was a simple request, repeated dozens of times a day in Westport:
“Let’s have coffee. Where should we go?”
Then my friend added a caveat: “Besides Starbucks.”
The list of options dwindled dramatically.
Westporters — and the world — has a love/hate relationship with Starbucks. Globally the chain has been pilloried for gross corporate commodification, introducing pseudo-sophisticated quasi-Italian complications into the formerly simple act of ordering a cup of coffee, exploiting third world farmers, and driving small shops out of business.
On the plus side, they have Wi-Fi.
Locally, the downtown location weirds me out. The seating area is dark; the tables are in the wrong spot (they should face the river, not Klaff’s); it’s cramped, and not always, um, clean.
The 2nd location — “the Starbucks by the diner” — is better, provided you don’t mind listening to bad music just loud enough to be irritating. It’s airier and roomier; there’s more parking, and if you’re lucky you can snag 1 of the 4 comfy chairs from the 50 people who park themselves there all day, laptopping their consulting projects, novel writing, porn-watching, or whatever it is they do in the seat I want to sit in.
The 3rd Starbucks — in Barnes & Noble — is reserved for tutors and tutees; Craigslist users meeting in public before hooking up to be sure the other person is not an ax murderer, and consultants and novelists who couldn’t get a comfy chair at the Starbucks by the diner.
The 4th Starbucks doesn’t count, because it’s in Super Stop & Shop.
So what’s the alternative?
But this is Westport. And despite being the most fabulous, hip, cool, wealthy and splendiferous spot on earth, our coffee shop choices suck.
Coffee An’ has great donuts, but it lacks ambience.
Great Cakes has Rick, Bonnie, and 3 little tables.
Doc’s is nice, but it’s in Saugatuck. In Westport distances that’s like the galaxy Zork.
So after intensive deliberations, my friend and I decided on the perfect spot. We’ll meet next week for coffee at a nice little place. It’s got 4 comfy chairs, and parking.
See you at Starbucks!