I think I'm dating my coffee shop.
I think 400 of them were taken inside Bull Run Coffee.
That's not an exaggeration. I am legitimately nervous to count. It's going to be an embarrassing percentage.
Meanwhile, let's take a look at the IV in my left arm. It's cold press, currently, but I suppose it could be any combination of soy milk and espresso, too. Drip. Drip. Drip. Good to the last drop, isn't that the phrase?
When we moved to the neighborhood, I knew this place would be a problem. It was already one of my very favorite coffee shops in the twin cities. A three-minute-walk has not reduced my affection. If anything, it's quietly becoming a second home. And when I say "becoming," please know that I've essentially signed lease; rent is paid daily in varying amounts of "hello," "Jasmine please," and "soy cap?"
Throughout my years at Gustavus, I worked as a barista at one of the very best coffee shops in Minnesota (read: the world). My sophomore year, I lived off campus--sort of--with a gaggle of seniors. I had a car, and cash, and free time to spare. So I did what most 19-year-olds would do: I drank a lot and spent too much. So, a job became a necessity. I wasn't unfamiliar with being a part of the work force; my parents whole-heartedly believed in teenagers having jobs...as soon as they turned thirteen. I played roles: dishwasher, bookseller, sandwich artist, ice cream parlor maestro, server. Something food-based just made sense.
River Rock was a hotspot of sorts in the town of Saint Peter. A coffee shop in a small town, but exceptionally vocal for the global community. Sustainability and quality were (are) the lifeblood of the operation, and, from the beginning, that was apparent.
Tamika, hair out to here, curly and frantic. Her eyes calm in a way that was both pleasant and terrifying. Me, wearing a polo--what was I thinking--and jeans that made my ass look damn good, hair also out to here. And Amber, sitting off to the side, full of sassy commentary during my time with Tamika. Montana--the brilliant human, not the state--sitting down half-way through, laughing at my bad jokes and asking why I'd circled the flamingo sticker on the application.
An hour later: "We like to leave it in your hands at this point. Go home. Rest. Relax. Think about it. Call us back tomorrow if you'd like to commit to working here."
Fourteen hours pass: "YESTHANKSIWILLTAKETHEJOBCANISTARTTODAY?"
I spent four and a half years with River Rock Coffee. I became a part of the community, a part of the family. From behind the counter, I was a masthead. Face-forward and resolved.
Now, a member of a new coffee community, on the other side of the counter. First name basis, and better conversation than "It's been good, how about yours?" I have to pause here and there to think about what it means to be in front of a chemex or a french press, not behind one. And, I suppose, I've reached the conclusion that it doesn't really matter what side of the counter you're planted on. When you're a coffee-centric person, your love for the touch-taste-smell of the craft does not wane. I still appreciate a rosetta and the way crema can ripple like satin. The velvet of Guatemala and blueberry of Kenya still linger on the back of your tongue just a little longer than it does for the casual coffee connoisseur.
Today, I am feeling thankful for espresso and, more specifically, the people who put so much care and effort into the art of coffee. There are days when settling down in St. Peter and going back to River Rock sounds like the most enticing, brilliant proposition.
Luckily, Bull Run is an equally perfect bar...even on this side of the counter.