I’ve spent some time in coffee houses lately and it is funny how I want to redecorate some, get my mug to-go in others and nest for a while in a select few. So, it got me to thinking, is it all about the coffee or does the atmosphere brew a rich connection to the experience as well?
For me, it is both. While in Birmingham, I’ve filtered through the chains and neighborhood percolating spots, and have come up with a few favorites.
My first visit is to O’Henry’s in Homewood. There is history here. And there is mystery. On a shelf (see the arrow below) there is a wooden box that contains notes and letters from the patrons of O’Henry’s. Some are love letters, scripture verses, dreams of better tomorrows and yes, there’s at least one that will bring tears to your eyes about how a heart was broken – making you want to hurt the guilty one.
Some of the notes are written on the backs of receipts, coffee cup huggers, napkins or a piece of notebook paper torn from the lecture notes of a college class. And one in particular caught this mother’s attention.
Anything that makes me think of New York City catches my attention. My oldest lives and writes there.
My second stop is in The Red Cat. This coffee house has the feel that you’ve been transported to a coffee warehouse somewhere like the middle of the Dominican Republic or east Africa.
There are stacks of coffee bean bags all over the perimeter of The Red Cat.
And, I found this monster appliance sitting over in a corner. This is their little red roaster. I really want one of those empty bags once the beans have been loaded for roasting. Red appliances in the kitchen? I think they may be on to something.
I’ve done a little research and can’t find a story about the red cat here in the window. There may have to be a follow up story. I mean I want to know where the red cat came from, how it became their namesake and who it belonged to.
I had to move to decaf by the third stop at The Urban Standard. If you are into shabby chic, then this is your place. There’s very creative decor in this little coffee house.
The lights are hanging from two old wrought iron gates that are suspended from the ceiling.
The patrons and employees of Urban Standard were very friendly, as you see in the photos.
I have to say that this mustache has personality plus and Luke, the house manager, matches it perfectly. He was more than helpful in sharing the history of Urban Standard. They’ve been in business for over 6 years, started out as a workshop/gallery and are located in downtown Birmingham.
“Why downtown? Urban Standard wants to bolster a growing community of loft dwellers, students, creative thinkers and busy professionals. It has quickly become a favorite haunt for anyone in the neighborhood, and more importantly, a destination for those not normally downtown.”
And my final stop is the Church Street Coffee and Books store in Crestline. The first thing I noticed was their friendly welcome of both adults and children in this store.
Parents can enjoy their coffee while the kiddies read or write on this chalkboard.
Now that the beans are all roasted, ground and brewed, I’ll leave you with this quote from O’Henry’s:
“Dr. Bright saw a coffeehouse as an opportunity to bring people together; a blend of coffee and community. Conversations unfold, romances bloom, and decisions are made” over a good cup of coffee.
So how do you like your coffeehouse? One with history, the feel of a loft or warehouse, shabby chic or complete with a kiddie corner? We are fortunate to have them all in Birmingham.