Capitol Hill, Seattle
Dumpsters and overflowing trash cans in the alleyway glowed in the unseasonably bright sunshine as we slipped through the smudged glass doors into the warm downstairs of Brauhaus Books & Coffee. Scratched black walls bring to mind the back stage of a tiny theatre just after breakdown. Crooked paintings hung on the walls with tacked up ephemera and a few palms sat in otherwise empty corners.
Walking the few steps to the counter, I grabbed at Katie Jay's arm. There before us, sitting nonchalantly on the counter, was loose leaf tea - labeled, corked, and almost posh - from B. Fuller's Mortar & Pestle. All I could think was "Have we found it? Already?" We made our orders and listened to the banter of the baristas and regulars as we waited.
Double Shot Americano // Thin chocolate notes sat behind definite sour grapefruit hints, though it was not light enough to be green. Best hot as it thinned on cooling.
Ginger Green Tea // Grassy and luke-warm without any ginger notes. The tea bag provided was filled generously but bundled too tightly to allow for the tea to steep properly leading to over-extraction and bitterness (though I did become quite involved in the article I was reading and may have left it in too long for my taste). Honey could round out the flavor, though none was available.
Turning from the counter and squinting from the sun as we grasped our cups, we scuffed up the paint-worn stairs and found ourselves in a large, yet not un-cozy room. We settled in at the bar above the stairs and I unfolded the newspaper we had snagged downstairs.
I gazed at the people surrounding us as Katie Jay opened one of the books we had just gotten at the library. The room quietly rustled with turning pages and soft classic rock, filled to the brim with tables, books, chairs, laptops, felt hats, patched knees, leather boots, and writing implements. Even so, as I turned to read, focus came quickly and easily. A writer's den of the highest quality.
After a peaceful half hour or so of listening to the quiet in our own heads and watching the sun streak across the floor, I gathered up our new books, smoked paprika, and newly acquired library cards and slipped down the squeaking chairs after Katie Jay, wishing we could stay and finding comfort in the fact that it will be there when we return.
I am sure we will return, and perhaps often. It is a simple joy to wrap your hands round a warm cup of coffee and an easy thing to ask for less loose-leaf in a tea bag. It is far more difficult to find such a place of deep focus combined with whimsy and walls of beautiful books one is not obligated to read.
update from December 2015: Sadly, Bauhaus Books & Coffee has closed all of its locations.