Room for Cream

For one so unashamedly basking in her addiction to coffee as I am, the café is a place of unbridled fascination. Each new city visited or lived in brings the promise of magical corners to be discovered where flavorful coffee may flow undeterred and the décor, the music and the arrangement of tables and chairs, as well as the clientele, combine to provide an irresistible aura of inspiration.

The café becomes the obligatory haunt of writers, artists, and telecommuters perennially and tragically attached to a machine and their email inbox, which ruthlessly dictates the rhythm of each day. It is only with coffee in my body that I can more composedly face the daily pile of work. And it is the café, for people in my situation, who have no personal dedicated space for work at home or anywhere, which holds the promise of a few hours of focused activity, but also the romance of sitting by a window, cup in hand, half-listening to distant conversation, but mostly engrossed in the task at hand.

Appropriately romantic corners, however, do not abound, and I have often found myself running from one place to the other, up and down mercilessly long streets, searching for a place where to set up shop. Defeated and disappointed, I will occasionally yield to a Starbuck’s or Peet’s, which provide absolutely no occasion for daydreaming or fancying myself some forlorn writer of ages past, instead of a translator descending into twelve different types of terminology hell. Then there is no pleasure whatsoever, only the formality and anonymity of a cardboard cup filled with perfectly unremarkable coffee.

Less often than I woud like, but somewhat often, nonetheless, I will come across a marvelous little spot sitting, unassuming, between shops. It is often discovered by chance, only rarely by recommendation. Few things, to me, compare to the pure, refreshing pleasure of opening the wood-framed door (with most quaint little cafés, it is often an aged wooden door) and walking up to the cashier. I will then take my pick of coffee and, with nothing but happiness in my chest, I will turn to savor the most delightful moment of the experience: choosing the table where I will sit to work, with ample room for thought, to sigh and to despair and to rejoice at finding the perfect word.

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