Chartreuse is a shade of green. I learned that recently. For some reason, I had always assumed that it was purple.
As I’ve mentioned before, I live in Tiny Town. One of the things that make this tolerable is the local coffee shop, The Chartreuse Moose. I probably should have figured out the whole green/purple thing much sooner. I had wondered for a year why the antlers of the moose in their logo were the “wrong” color.
The hand-painted sign on the window invites you to “warm yourself inside”, and if you don’t take them up on that offer, you’re missing out. There are very few things more satisfying than sipping a perfect latte on a cold day while you watch the steel-gray sky outside.
Their coffee is fantastic. I’m partial to a dark roast, with lots of sugar but no milk. Or, when I feel like something fancier, a plain whole-milk latte. Mostly, though, I drink tea. It’s lucky that they carry a good brand, because I can’t drink a lot of coffee anymore—it hurts me. But, here, technology tempts me to ignore my own best interests. Every time The Moose updates their Twitter account that they’re brewing their Organic Cuban Peaberry, I hit the road, and hustle down the three blocks to their door.
When I do, I also bring my notebook, because I tend to do most of my best conceptual work while I’m there. I’ll write down outlines for entire stories, or blog posts. I’ve taken to calling The Moose “The Magic Coffee Shop” in reference to the amount of content I can generate during a single visit.
How does a cafe like The Chartreuse Moose become such an integral part of our lives? What is there to a coffee shop beyond the beverages? The large chain that I used to work for refers to their stores as “the third place”, the one that comes after our homes and work. The idea is meant to express a place where we want to be when we go out, a community living room we can spend time in. I think this is an apt description for a proper coffee shop.
A “community living room” is somewhere we can connect with each other. We feel safe there. It provides a different perspective than the one from the other “two places”. We also seek out these stores for companionship. Many times, I turn up to The Moose and see people I know who have already, independently, made the choice to visit.
The Moose excels at creating the concept, whether intentionally or not. Their skillful, internationally certified baristas welcome you and make your drink. The smell of the freshly-roasted beans permeates the air. The quaint moose-themed decor and nature photography on the wall evoke the feeling of being in a cabin, someplace familiar and homey. My favorite touch is the rug with the moose on it. Occasionally, the thing you notice is just how spotless everything is. They have staff bussing the tables about every five minutes. All of these little details add up and make the experience.
Beyond the tables, counters, and the theoretical community room, The Moose has a literal living room, as well. Set slightly apart from the rest of the shop, it has a couch, fireplace, lounge chairs, and games, too, if you’re interested. I’ve sat there for many afternoons, captured by a good book. This focus is made possible by the absence of the distractions that compete for my attention at home.
I don’t think I could get by here without The Moose. I’m fairly certain that it keeps me sane. The town would still have a well-known donut franchise as a substitute, but it wouldn’t be the same. Nobody feels creative in a plastic booth. You can’t bring a novel and read it there. I can’t imagine anybody becoming as attached. I don’t think it’s too far off to think of The Moose as the heart of the town.
A good coffee shop sells more than delicious drinks. It acts as a meeting space, a haven, or an inspiration. I can visit with my friends without cleaning my house. Somebody will take care of me. Some folks will complain about paying for “five dollar lattes”, but I think the prices are fair. Most of the time, I view the purchasing of the drink as the cost of renting the comfy chair for an hour or several.