Over the last 10-15 years I’ve had an opportunity to be in some special places around the nation. Whether it’s been for personal or business reasons, I’ve discovered some locations that, combined with a little caffeine, produce something very close to magic. It’s in these places that my heart comes most alive to the wonderful creation around us. There’s no way I could rank these places. Take a look and feel free to add to the list.
Cafe du Monde at Jackson Square in New Orleans, LA
The beignets are OK and the cafe au lait is so-so, but the whole concept of sitting in the middle of history and on the edge of the French Quarter with the Mighty Mississippi at your back is really cool. Safe for the whole family.
There is a coffee shop in south Cambria that I’d recommend, but if I was going to have a coffee in Cambria I would not consider any other option but the Moonstone Bar and Grill. The patio sits directly in front of one of the greatest shows on earth: the drama that is the Pacific Ocean. It’s going to be a little chilly but that’s OK since the Moonstone has heaters and blankets. The perfect place for reflection. In fact, you don’t even need coffee here.
Cafe Orleans at Disneyland USA
Just a continuation of my New Orleans fettish. Sit under the wrought iron railing with Roy and Walt Disney’s initials, Rivers of America in front of you, Pirates of the Caribbean to your right and the Haunted Mansion your left—the last two attractions Walt himself contributed to. And there’s never a bad day at Disneyland. Get the iced latte.
Proving Grounds in Leadville CO
Leadville totally embraces its mining heritage. The Proving Grounds, like Leadville itself, is a step back into the rush of 1859 and subsequent rushes. Seems like they may have mined mostly lead but not sure why I am remembering that. But what I like to do is sit at the tables outside the front door, feel the fresh mountain air (Leadville is the highest city in the world at 10,000 feet), and look straight at Mt. Elbert and Mt. Massive, two highest peaks in Colorado. Drink it black. And consider a green chile cheeseburger at the Golden Burro.
Square Books in Oxford MS
This is the air that William Faulkner breathed. Square Books is a treat unto itself, but take the stairs up to the coffee shop for a old-fashioned brew and a swig of the Old South. Take a copy of As I Lay Dying upstairs with you. You don’t even have to open it, just take it with you. I’d have to go with an Americano.
Starbucks on the Plaza in Santa Fe, NM
Grab lunch at the Guadalupe Cafe–be sure to sit on the patio–then walk down to the Plaza Starbucks for whatever caffeinated beverage seems the most exotic at the time. That’s just the sort of decision Santa Fe deserves. And for the more-literary minded it’s cool to know that Crichton‘s Jurassic Park actually begins here on the Plaza at The Guadalupe Cafe.
Bongo Billy’s in Buena Vista CO
Maybe not as good as Proving Grounds in Leadville because of store location, but very similar. They’ve got free wi-fi so that’s a plus, but the ultimate is Princeton, Harvard, Yale, and Columbia all in row and right there in your face. I’ve got a story for all four so maybe that’s what makes Bongo Billy’s special. But you’ve got to be pretty-much dead not to be awe-inspired. Triple Cafe Vienna in a mug, not a paper cup. Take a Bible and plan to be there for a long time.
Java Mountain in Idaho Springs CO
Detect a trend? Coffee and Colorado go together like nothing else. If you’re not wearing boots and spurs, you’ll feel like you are when you step into Java Mountain. Right off the Interstate and easy to find, they roast their own here so you owe it to yourself to go with whatever they recommend. Always a fan of Sumatra.
Musso and Franks, Hollywood Blvd.
Two to three blocks toward Vine from the Kodak Theatre, the Chinese Theatre, and the Roosevelt Hotel. If you’re lucky you can catch a night when Manny is working. He’s been at Musso and Franks since the 1960s and is more than willing to tell stories about where Steve McQueen always sat, old-time Hollywood, and why he thinks The Wizard of Oz is the greatest movie ever made. It’s the best Cappuccino I’ve ever had. By a long shot.
Seattle Best at Pike’s Market, Seattle WA
This was a tough one. In what is arguably the birthplace of American coffee, you’ve got to pick between the original Starbucks and the original Seattle’s Best right around the corner. Both are in Pike’s Market. Even though Starbucks actually faces the Sound, I’ll go with Seattle’s Best because it is located more in the middle of the market foot traffic. Be sure to take your favorite magazine or a newspaper. It doesn’t matter what you order.