I awaken in a sweat, the result of the intense anger and disappointment I feel in my dream. To calm myself, I get up and make coffee in my own kitchen with the free trade, locally roasted beans I grind myself. I cradle the warm cup between my hands and breathe in the invigorating, comforting aroma, with its hints of chocolate and rich earth. I limit myself to two cups, but I mindfully immerse myself in the whole coffee ritual and experience.
Sometimes I think of the growers, the pickers, and the roasters. I’m so grateful for them.
What is the dream that wakens me in fear and upset? I dream that I’m staying at someone’s home and when I get up in the morning and search through their kitchen, I discover THERE IS NO COFFEE. It's a nightmare.
Sometimes, to comfort myself after such frightening dreams, I go to one of the top coffee shops in Austin, Texas. The fact that I'm a writer, and writers hang out in coffee shops, gives me an advantage in that I've been to several of the best.
Jo's located on Austin's iconic S. Congress Avenue has the famous "I Love You So Much" mural. Thousands of tourists pose there every day. The story is that a former lover wrote the original phrase in lipstick on the side of the building and the owner kept it and made it permanent. Regardless, the coffee is excellent, they have breakfast tacos for as long as they last each day, which isn't long, and some of the most succulent cinnamon rolls in town.
Mozart's Coffee is on Lady Bird Lake in West Austin. Outdoor seating and on the walkway allow for views of the ducks and swans swimming by on the lake. My niece once drove over two hours just to go there for coffee and muffins before driving back. Writing there can be difficult, as there are so many people hanging out, drinking coffee or hot chocolate, and writing, working, or doing schoolwork that the WiFi can get overwhelmed. When that happens, get another cup and watch the rippling water. During the winter holidays, Mozart's presents a fantastical outdoor light show complete with live music.
Lesser known coffee shops are my favorite. Opa's on South Lamar is where I'm usually writing. Old school Austin, it's small, dimly lit, with an outdoors covered in dusty, shabby chic chairs and tables. They serve great coffee, Greek food, and $5 wine at happy hour. One guitar acoustic music happens on the front porch some weekdays and weekends.
One I visited shortly after my vaccination took affect is Radio Coffee in South Austin. It has the advantage of a huge outdoor seating area, and three food trucks parked on the property. It hosts a South Austin flea market on the second Sunday of the month, with jewelry, art, and antiques for sale. Radio, like Opa's. serves wine. They also serve beer. That makes them a favorite in my coffee world.
Buzz Mill is a one of a kind on Town Creek Drive in the Riverside area of Austin, Texas. The vibe is old west sawmill, laid back and casual. The patio has been home to a Witches' Market and musicians. There's always a food truck or two, and they also serve alcohol. Most importantly, as they state on their website, "Buzz Mill is a comunity driven brand that strives to improve our Neighborwoods a little at time...A community driven brand is a brand tha's sole purpose is to cultivate the community aroundit...From building gardens, cleaning rivers, to creatinga place where people can interface with their community in new ways.
Merit Coffee began in a renovated warehouse in San Antonio, Texas seven years ago as Merit Roasting Company. They expanded to five locations there, three in Austin, and two in Dallas. Their team travels to South America and Aftrica to forge relationships with growers. Because they began as roasters, they offer a subscription coffee service, which might help solve my nightmare experience of waking to no coffee.
In my nightmares I search more and more frantically for coffee, convinced there must be coffee there somewhere. Occasionally I find coffee but nothing to make it in. Other times, I find a coffee maker, but no coffee. Lucky for me, there's plenty of excellent coffee shops to choose from where I live in Austin, Texas.