My husband, William and I are a café people. So we have accumulated a good list of preferred cafés. Our favorites hinge on quality of coffee (taste and richness), price and a certain understated feel to the place. The latter includes how conducive a café is for a good
demonstrative discussion. Cordial servers and location are also thrown into the mix. Depending upon our preferences at the time, quality of bakery items, espresso drinks and Chai tea may be figured in too.
Since William worked near Ashland, Oregon at the time, my visits to him introduced us to a few of the many Ashland cafés. Our favorite at the time: Bloomsbury Books Café. The patio out back with its bamboo awnings and flower garden graced by a stone Buddha offered an unparalleled ambiance.
A year later, with our relationship solidified, we found ourselves living in West Seattle and Caffe Ladro—just down the street—with its big wooden deck chairs out front and huge coffee cups with saucers became our favorite on a Saturday morning. I especially took to their lattes topped with a delicate fern design and William to their luscious brownies.
A move to Mt Shasta, California for four years ushered in our top choice found in Dunsmuir, a town a few miles south: the Brown Trout Café. Now defunct, a creek feeding into the Sacramento River ran underneath the floor and a patron could stand on a grate and watch the flowing water below. Our favorite stools next to the window looked out on the train yard across the street and the forest-covered hills. The mocha's were a special treat made with a Mexican chocolate rarely found outside the State of California.
Before moving back to Washington State, we took up residency in Ashland, Oregon. We had been visiting Ashland once a month, but it often isn't until you live somewhere that you can fully invest in the cafés. For café culture means hanging out as well as drinking coffee or tea over a period of visits. Bloomsbury Books Café became our top stop again as well as another. But sometimes cafés should remain a secret so I’m going to jump to Washington State.
Since we live a long ways from a café now, and our visits less frequent, our decision was carefully considered. After trying several in various nearby towns, our undisputed favorite café became The Coffee Exchange in Kingston, Washington. The coffee is yes, good, and the chairs are comfy and welcoming. A bonus is the owners' big old calico cat, Kiki, often seen slinking around the tables and chairs. There is an understated feel to the place—one of our top priorities in choosing to make a café our ‘home’ away from home.
We also keep a list of recommended cafés for when we happen to be passing through. Do you have a favorite café to share?
Photo: Brown Trout Café by Catherine Kigerl. 2011
Catherine Kigerl is a contributing author to New Halem Tales Secrets: 13 Stories from 5 NW Authors. She is also the author of Stirring up the Water (under the name Cat Ruiz) published in 2008 by Salt Publishing Ltd, Cambridge UK. Her projects in the works include: The Further Adventures of the Parking Lot Prophet and No Expectations. A second collection of poems, The Water Settles, is also forthcoming. More about Cathy at 5 NW Authors and New Halem Tales.