Savannah has coffee shops. They are many and varied. Each having their own vibe. Although I do not drink coffee, I find myself in them often. Either I am writing or socializing. They are a significant part of my life. Besides my house and libraries I spend more of my time in coffee shops than anywhere else.
My very first coffee shop was the Gallery Expresso. It is a nouveau shop with hors’ oeuvres and great sweets. It is always crowded but I went because it was my first. It was the place I took my wife on our first date after a play. It was in conversation there I discovered we could have a good life together. It is also the place my oldest daughter flooded the bathroom. We could see our embarrassed child and water coming out from under the door. We rushed out and I can no longer return. I pass it in my car but can only look at it longingly from afar now.
The Sentient Bean is the “coffee shop as movement” place I love to go. There is fair trade coffee, vegetarian food, music in the evenings, and public forums. It is also the place a friend declared “they will never make it’ (referring to the two young women fresh out of college Kelli and Kristin). He exclaimed their business plan sucked, was too utopian, and could not possibly last. Twenty years later it is still there even though the competition has become pretty stiff. I often avoid the Sentient Bean because I know too many people there and I am supposedly writing.
Foxy Loxy is the coffee shop that is only half bohemian. They have good sweets and light Mexican fare. It is the current darling of the Savannah community. Located across from a SCAD building and the library, they are always full. But on one magical day my oldest daughter and I had a moment in the trees on the balcony of the house. I have attended a wedding in the back courtyard and have shared moments with friends there too. Because heaven knows I cannot resist the darling of Savannah.
The Mate Factor is actually not a coffee shop but a mate shop. It is run by the Twelve Tribes Commune. You enter and it is Cracker Barrel chic. It has a beautiful wood farmhouse feel about it. A staff straight out of Little House on the Prairie and who always have impeccable smiles on their face. They have music on a track they play over and over as if in an attempt to pull some commune brainwashing on you. And for some reason everyone is carrying on a religious conversation. Which reminds me to tell the young men at the table next to me considering the ministry, ‘Do not do it’. But the atmosphere is nice and they have one of my favorite sandwiches and the best muffins so I find myself listening and slowly being converted to the ways of the Twelve Tribes.
Savannah Coffee Roasters is big and always has a table. They have great sweets, and a comedy club group meets on the second floor. So I go there. The lines can be long with tourists as it is situated next to a hotel but it is a great people-watching place. They claim to have been around since 1909. A claim that needs to offer an explanation when The Oldest Coffee Shops in America are listed as Café Du Monde, New Orleans (1862) Caffè Reggio, New York City (1927) Caffe Vittoria, Boston (1929) Caffe Trieste, San Francisco (1956). One day I will get to the bottom of this.
The Coffee/Deli is what you would expect in a coffee shop in a strip mall. The aesthetics, while not great, are sufficient. But the sun can be blinding at certain times of the day as it comes through the front glass wall. My favorite incident there was when my daughter Dorothy came in with her friend gave me a side wave as if to conceal it from her friends but a few moments later, she is acknowledging me as she pours on her charm and says “Hi Dad. Things going alright. Since you are here Dad can I borrow money for me and my friends to have drinks.” It is good to know she cares and still finds me useful.
The Friendship Coffee House on Wilmington Island is fairly new. I go there to meet two old friends Jan and Margy. They require my presence every so often to collect money for Joined In Giving or when I have not seen them recently. The first time I went, I noticed I was the only man in the coffee house. I instantly felt macho until my ordered avocado toast came. I should have ordered the triple 100% all beef burger but instead I blended in just fine.
These are the main coffee shops I go to in Savannah. So if you ever want to see me, look in a coffee shop. I will be hiding in a corner. I will not have coffee but tea instead and will be seeking a little solitude to write. No coffee, not seeking community; how anti-coffee shop can you get? I guess I forever will be the Coffee Shop Interloper.