When my husband and I drove cross country (twice) in 2020, it was the daily morning coffee ritual that grounded me. We stayed in different lodging every day, and one of the things on my criteria list for choosing accommodations was whether there was a cute coffee shop in walking distance. I knew that no matter where my head was hitting the pillow, it would comfort me to know that in the morning I had coffee to look forward to – and preferably a walk to get there.
Each place had its own spin on how to make a great cup of coffee.
The second I’d walk into these coffee shops, it put a smile on my face – these experiences made me HAPPY! Geographic location had a lot to do with decor which was fun to notice, the smells were amazing, and that chance to connect with a friendly face and warm cup of coffee grounded me in strange places.
I met some cool people by seeking out the scrappy mom and pop places. I also learned something new about myself last year which is that wherever we live, a local coffee shop is a non-negotiable. Preferably a single proprietor type of coffee shop.
Here are the most memorable coffee shops from our cross country trip – and why:
- Candlestick Coffee, Corrales New Mexico. I found this little place, which is more of a coffee roasting shop where you’d buy beans. The owner had just started the biz a year prior and made me an amazing coffee for me every day from a different region. While he mindfully made my coffee we would chat about entrepreneurship, New Mexico and the strange COVID times for businesses. Besides the awesome coffee, he had a display of gorgeous pottery on shelves as you walked in, and lo and behold this led me to Hanselmann Pottery, a company I followed for years on IG which was just across the street behind the fire department, since 1974. How cool is that?
- Storyteller & Jackrabbit Java, Thermopolis Wyoming. On the main street, across from a statue of a bronze cowboy pioneer and horse, this sweet store draws you in. The front is a general store with books and gifts and the coffee bar is at the back with every kind of coffee you can imagine. The lady said she would make any kind of coffee we wanted, and while she made a great coffee for me, we browsed. I bought this pair of socks that I literally want to wear everyday.
- Coffee Conscious, Berkeley California. My go to when in Berkeley, this place is more than a coffee shop. It’s that neighborhood store that knows you when you walk in. It’s comforting, artsy, and the coffee is blended right there, mainly from Africa and S. America. There’s an occasional musician inside, books, pottery, art for sale and grass roots newsletters offered on the counter. It’s just really special!
- Pinon Coffee House, Santa Fe NM. The colors in this area are spectacular, and when I walked into this coffee shop I was immediately happy. Everything popped at once in the best of ways, the place was so inviting. During COVID the chairs are pushed aside, and even though people can’t congregate, it still had a warm feeling. I’m not sure I recall the coffee specifically, but the experience brightened my day!
- Eurasia Coffee, Springfield MO. A pleasant surprise, this coffee shop became my workplace for several days. Last stop on a traditional small town main street, this place feels urban and trendy with tasty coffee and snacks and comfy seating with lots of space. I looked forward to popping my laptop open each day I visited!
- Barista Parlor, Nashville TN. A really cool place, the branding and swag make you salivate before you’ve had a sip of coffee. Looks like an industrial garage turned coffee shop with cool outdoor seating and lots of street art in the parking lot. I’m sure it’s way cooler when the whole thing is open!
- Coffee Girl, Astoria WA. One of the most unique coffee locations on my trip! Coffee Girl can be found on the Columbia River in an old cannery building on the pier. As you drive over the 5mph wooden bridge, you feel like you’ve gone back 60 years. To find Coffee Girl, walk to the back of the pier past old antique boats. Get a cup of coffee and and a sandwich, then exit out the back and sit on the pier watching the gorgeous water view. Aaaaahhhh….
- Birch, New York, NY. Last but for sure not least, my home neighborhood fav. A survivor that stayed open pretty much every day during COVID. It’s a privately owned chain with down to earth branding and friendly staff. There’s a bookshelf at my spot with used books you can borrow, games, and some hand made pottery for sale. If you’re a regular every 12th cup is free!
My morning walk either starts or ends with a great cup of coffee, and the day is just a little bit better when I connect with a cafe that inspires me. How great is it when the barista knows you too! Drop me a line with some of your favorite coffee places, I’d love to check them out!