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Monday, November 14, 2011

Coffee Confessions

I have a confession to make.  I don’t like coffee.  I know, I know.  It is the nectar of the gods, the cure of all ills, and it smells like heaven itself.  Believe me I wish I liked coffee.  It is the culturally acceptable drink of adults.  I’d love to walk up to the barista and request something fancy like a Sumatra Dark Roast or Komodo Dragon Blend.  Instead I quietly creep up to the counter and ask for hot water and directions to the tea bags.  Or worse, a can of Dr. Pepper.

I have never developed a taste for coffee.  I want to drink it.  When my husband brews a cup of cappuccino I always ask for a sniff.  Its scent is so exquisite.  Rich and dark, it smells the way that chocolate tastes.  But every time I sample the lovely liquid, my tongue revolts, my jaws clench, and I have the urge to spit.  I just don’t like the taste.  Please, don’t hate me!  I’m already a coffee pariah.
And coffee houses are so much fun.  Deep comfy chairs for sipping and visiting.  Fun funky art that brightens the walls, and cozy nooks perfect for reading or writing the great American novel.  Who doesn’t love a good coffee house?  I can’t resist them.  Even on a recent road trip to Arkansas with my friend and coffee junkie, Jeanie Ransom, we had to stop at a coffee house or two.  We found a charming spot called Sweet Bay Coffee.  We wanted to stay all afternoon but we were already playing hooky from the conference and good girls that we are, we were afraid of “getting in trouble."  So we soaked up the atmosphere and vowed to spend an afternoon sipping and sniffing coffee closer to home.

Lucky for us there are several charming shops in the St. Charles area.  Jeanie works at Starbucks, which is a perennial favorite for coffee drinkers in the know.  She gives a class called coffee 101 where neophyte coffee drinkers can learn the difference between French roasts and Italian, or latte and cappuccino.  Starbucks even offers coffee tastings called a “cupping” where aficionados can learn to rate coffee on the basis of clarity, complexity, and balance or sweetness. 

I have a different way of rating coffee houses.  I look for charm, comfort and good food.  Three local independent coffee houses have made my list of delightful places to spend the afternoon.  The first is Crooked Tree Coffee at 559 First Capitol in Old St. Charles.  Housed in a 1800's storefront, the coffee shop has an original tin ceiling, a great choice of herbal teas, and really fabulous selection of wraps and sandwiches.  The mandarin orange chicken salad is guaranteed to make you smile.

I also love the St. Charles Coffee House at 3821 McClay Road.   It is housed in a modern building, but still has a comfy stay awhile vibe.  I have literally spent hours visiting with friends, solving the world's problems and not once have I been chased out.  So lovely to be able to sit and enjoy a cup of tea, sniff the coffee, and eat red velvet biscotti.

Back in old town St. Charles, coffee house addicts need to go to Picasso's at 101 North Main Street.  There is a perpetual art show covering the walls with works by local artists, great teas, coffees, and huge muffins!  Big chairs and quiet tables inside are perfect for writing, reading, and visiting.  When the weather is nice you can sit outside and spend a lovely hour people watching.

Coffee houses are a gift to our community.  The provide a gathering spot for friends, a venue for musicians and artists, and of course a serious cup of coffee for those with sophisticated taste buds.  As  for me, I will be forever a coffee wannabe.  But at least the coffee crowd lets me hang out at their wonderful stores.  Thank you coffee shop owners of the world.  You make me happy!

And readers - please let me know about your favorite coffee shop.  I'm always looking for a new adventure.

 Check out these great coffee shops on line:


  1. I don't drink coffee either. What a lovely article. My 19 year old daughter has developed the taste - more for coffee houses than coffee, I think. Her favorite in Tulsa is Shades of Brown. It's a trendy place to hang out late without sneaking into a bar, and people need such places.

  2. It took three years in Italy to pick up a coffee habit. I would tell people that I didn't like coffee. They would essentially say that of course I don't like caffe americano. So I caved to peer pressure repeatedly and picked up the coffee habit.

    I could just see myself walking to Crooked Tree....