In the course of your daily life, have you ever crossed paths w/ someone on the street, or at a coffeehouse, or in a grocery store who looks sort of like you? To the degree that, if your eyes meet, there's a moment of vague recognition before you look in the opposite direction, pretending you didn't see each other at all? Because, really, what are you gonna say? "Dude, I totally look like you!"
When it happens to me, I always wonder if there's something more to it ... Like, maybe that guy doesn't just look like you, but he really is you, and what's happening is you're stealing a glimpse into some alternate universe. And in this parallel dimension it looks like you go to the gym a little more often, or married your high school sweetheart, or maybe you did every single thing just exactly the same, right up until you decided to spend a little more on the double ply. And I think, in that instant after I've crossed paths w/ my transdimensional doppleganger, maybe it's all for the best that I don't stop to strike up a conversation over a cuppa, lest the entire space/time continuum unravel by it's very super-strings.
At Pablo's on 6th ave, if the hipster chicks are off the clock, and the boy-ristas are behind the counter, that's exactly the feeling I get. They may not look like me, w/ their tattoos and aboriginal taste in jewelry; but had the proverbial butterfly halfway across the world given one more mighty flap of his wings, I'd be off the red pleather couch and back behind the counter, barist'in, brewin' and flirtin'... maybe even (dream of dreams) taming that firey steel beast in the corner, mastering the alchemy of coffee roasting.
I get these guys... but more importantly, since I can't remember the last time I've been pulled through an interdimensional vortex, they get it , that elusive "what it's supposed to be like" when you go to a coffee house. And perhaps more importantly for them, they get some; sure, they're a little grungy and un-kepmt, but they're smarter than you and they have better taste in music, as is evident in the soundtrack playing in the background as you sip the "Danger Monkey" which was brewed w/ more tender attention than you paid to your wife last time you had sex. Make no mistake, your average drink of tall skinny latte digs these guys.
I have a great wife and great kids - a pretty satisfying life. One of the things that makes it so is the fact that I can go to a place like Pablo's and without saying anything besides my order, feel a kismit w/ the folks manning the espresso machine that I don't get talking all day to the people that I work w/. If I have to work for the man, if the counter-cultural cuties HAVE to take a day off, these guys make the atmosphere in my present universe a-okay.
However, my life could be a little bit better if Pablo's offered some sort of coffee roaster fantasy camp.
Just a postscript to my Monkey Bean review. I still love the place, but they do sometimes have a problem with consistency. I'm speaking particularly of the espresso drinks - the food and drip coffee is always terific. I don't know why, but for some reason, anytime I get a drink from a GUY that works there, there's always some glitch in the quality. (No, it's not just my fetish for girl-flavored baristas)
On a recent visit, the kid making my iced americano stuffed unweildly mounds of too-finely ground espresso into the porta-filter, insuring a 10 minutes wait for the bean-juice to drip like molasses through an I.V from the machine. The result was what I would imagine ground charcoal brickettes spiced w/ Marlboro Light ashes in cold water would taste like.
The place is just this side of a "write-me-a-poem-and-I'll-give-you-a-cup-of-coffee-because-that's-the-way-we-subvert-the-man" coffee shop; it's part of it's charm. But it's important that they always remember to keep on top of the training for the cheap labor from Urban Peak.
In the meantime, I'm can't recommend enough the book I'm currently reading... "The Devil's Cup", which journals my favorite vice's humble beginings in Ethiopia to it's subsequent virus-like domination of Europe, to it's maltreatment in the states, "stewing" in roadside diners across the country -- to it's current redeption, which the author, a sort of bohemian Indiana Jones, begrudgingly attributes (at least in part) to Starbucks.
His round the world adventure makes the pre-ground, single pot, vacuumed packed Starbucks stewing in the breakroom that I'm drinking from my Pablo's travel mug (decorated w/ an Ink! Coffee sticker) seem that much more bland. Gotta hit some new java joints this weekend!
Unlike the many other Ted Campbells on the interwebs, I'm neither a minister, nor a professional motorcyclist, nor a gay realtor from Florida.
What I AM is an ass-kickin' father, a corporate schlep, and an occasional freelance writer.
If you've found your way here, why not give my awesome "Blog of Note" blog-novel a look-see?