on coffee shops

coffee shop

Coffee shops are a necessary social institution. They’re a place for meeting, reuniting, flirting, reading, studying, napping, meditating, observing, and imbibing.

I feel immensely grateful to work in one. I eavesdrop on brown-nosers, innovators, hobbyists, gossipers, and over-sharers. I see joyful reunions and daily fights between friends over who gets to pay for whose latte. I meet local business owners, professors, students, artists, volunteers, and retirees. I see kindness and generosity extended. I see community at work. And I get to be a part of it.

Today I met a new friend at a local coffee shop. Although the ambiance differed from the one where I work, the purpose was the same. Coffee shops create an open atmosphere for free expression, a safe space for complaining, intervening, and frivolous merry-making alike.

My daily work is addictive. That we can unite under the banner of espresso – republican and democrat, Christian and Atheist, heterosexual and homosexual, scholar and athlete, male and female – fills me with joy.

Diplomats should consider conducting their meetings exclusively at coffee shops.

spiced chocolate cafe au lait

A simple way to (literally) spice up your morning coffee.

If I had a milk steamer, this whole process would be legit, but since I don’t have one (yet), I have to get creative to make foamy, steamy drinks at home. I also don’t own an espresso machine. Becoming a barista has shown me the error of my ways: I can’t call a blended coffee beverage a latte or mocha because those terms apply to espresso only. Therefore, today I bring you a simple recipe for Spiced Chocolate Cafe Au Lait (coffee and steamed milk) instead.

What you’ll need:

  • Ground medium or dark roast coffee
  • Ground Nutmeg
  • Ground Cinnamon
  • Chocolate Syrup
  • A blender or Magic Bullet
  • Milk
  • Whipped Cream or Marshmallows (optional – clearly, I didn’t add any)


  1. Brew enough coffee for one mug.
  2. Pour desired amount of milk into microwave safe container and heat for 1 or 2 minutes until hot.
  3. Blend coffee, heated milk, 2-3 tablespoons of chocolate syrup, 2 shakes nutmeg, and 3 shakes cinnamon in a blender or Magic Bullet for 15 seconds or until desired amount of foam is created.
  4. Pour into your favorite mug and enjoy.