Monday, December 21, 2009

Rural coffee shops? More than just for cows...

I am aware that the title of this blog implies exclusivity given to the region of Milwaukee, but I just had to write about the thriving coffee shops of the area where I sort of, well, grew up (cognitively that is, since I only lived there for 4 years).

Yesterday, I decided to get into the car and make the 3-hour drive to Lancaster, WI. You may be curious to know how a Jew ends up in Lancaster. Well, this is for another time and another place; I will just say that my mother ended up there, and that is where I go to visit her, shaking off my urban (is Milwaukee so urban?) coat and donning an eerie rural exterior that brings back memories long ago stored in the lower pyramidial tracts of my gray matter. In other words, I haven’t thought about this stuff for quite a while. It’s extremely Proustian to be here.

In any case, every city dweller knows that there is access to coffee at almost any moment, holiday or not. This has not always been the case for the denizen of the small town. My memories of coffee as a high school student in Platteville, WI, boil down (nice pun...) to a black plastic pitcher with free refills of dirty, brownish water, sometimes only made stronger tasting by the injection of carbon caused by some negligent person who didn’t think to take the carafe off the burner. This was coffee. The highly caffeinated robusta beans charged us with some sort of wonderful euphoria, then the cramps set in.
These days, there ARE coffee shops in small towns. The words coffee an shop, when put together, used to evoke danishes and coffee cake in metal and plastic containers on the counter and 5-cent lunches. To those in Amsterdam, it is code for another establishment type... Today, I can happily relate that there is actual espresso being served in these places. It may not be ideal, but it tastes stronger than the coffee anywhere else. There is even Wi-Fi as an added bonus.

At the very moment I am writing this, I am comfortably anchored to a chair at the Badger Brothers Coffee, on Main Street in Platteville, WI. It's a very relaxed place, with music from "A Charlie Brown Christmas" playing softly in the background and one or two customers busily typing on their laptops. The interior has been painted a light chocolate-caramel color and the tables and chairs,as well as the floor, are wood. There are "antique" computers on shelves, used only as decor (one happens to be an Apple IIe, I think). Every time a customer enters, the owner calls out their name, making it known that this is a community that invests time in each other. It's quite a place. Now, of course, I don't get the impression that being in a hurry would go over very well, but then again, that's not the pace of life around here.
Badger Brothers Coffee, LLC

1 comment:

  1. We've definitely found coffee interesting in a pretty rural country: Rather like home, you can find it good in the city, but they like it watered down in the outback!