Seattle’s Best Coffee

The coffee shop inside the Borders Bookstore is filled with people whose ages range from college student age to retirement age.  A few people lean their elbows on the table, sipping coffee and flipping through books that they have pulled off of the shelves.  Some are typing away on their laptops,  some just quietly sitting and drinking coffee.  Most people are seated in the big cushioned brown chairs in the middle of the Seattle’s Best coffee shop, but there are people engaged in quiet conversation at the tables.  The woman behind the counter makes small talk easily with customers, and has a bright and bubbly voice easily audible over the quiet hum of chatter or the steaming wand from the espresso machine.

The walls are sparsely decorated with images from Seattle framed in thick black wooden frames and they have a shelf of coffee beans to the right of the counter.  The walls are a pale mustard yellow, with wooden trim.  The wooden tables match the trim, and range in size from seating six people to only seating one.  Most of the tabletops are just plain wood, but one is decorated and slightly more colorful.

Four of the customers here are working on their laptops, taking advantage of the free wi-fi offered here.  All four are women.  In fact, of the 15 or so people here at any given time, only five are men.  All of the men who are here are reading rather than engaging in conversation.  One woman is making dinner plans on her cell phone.  She is wondering the name of the grocery store next door, asking “What’s that place called… I keep wanting to call it GI Joe’s…. Oh! Trader Joe’s!”

Despite being a coffee shop, the place has a stronger scent of paper than of coffee.  Apparently bookstores have a distinctive smell that coffee cant overpower.  One of the older women here is sipping tea.  She has long pigtail braids extending down her back.  Only one person here is eating, despite the availability of food at the coffee shop.

Behind the counter, the cashier is training another woman who must have just started here to work espresso, and they are making small talk about her recent haircut.

A couple of people are wearing raincoats, still damp and dripping from the weather outside, which hasn’t relented since early this morning.  The coffee shop atmosphere is easily broken by looking out to either side.  It is completely open to the bookstore as a whole, but the whole place is relatively quiet and calm, in spite of being very open.  They have done a very good job of creating a calm space in which people can focus or talk.

Every time someone walks in and orders an espresso drink, behind the register gets fogged with steam from foaming the milk.  Each table has a small paper triangle on it, advertising fall favorites, free wi-fi, and the mocha that made them famous.

Most of the people here are dressed warmly, in sweatshirts, sweaters, long pants, coats, boots.  One girl has a helmet with her, as though she biked here in the rain.  Two college-aged girls greet each other with a hug, and one introduces herself to the other girl’s boyfriend.  She apparently worked with the boy’s sister.  They talk briefly about classes and work as one of the girls pours creamer into her coffee.

There is music playing, alternative rock, but it is soft background noise rather than anything that would be noticed unless listening for it.  Most of what is audible is soft chatter, the sound of coffee beans grinding, paper flipping, and typing.

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