I am a classic 20something. I overshare on social media, I use my fashion and musical tastes as a way of establishing my personality, and I think my relationship with coffee shops is unique and special.
When I was growing up, all we had in town was Tim Hortons — for those of you non-Canadians, Tim Hortons is our ubiquitous fast food coffee chain. There’s one in every small town and occasionally lurking along the long stretches of highways between small, spaced-out towns up North where I’m from. I don’t normally eat or drink at “Timmy’s” anymore since they don’t have soy milk, and I’ve never been a black coffee gal.
When I moved to Waterloo, that was the first time I had access to a Starbucks. Starbucks seemed like a quaint, indie little coffee shop to me. For awhile I would kill afternoons in Starbucks, working on my novel that would never be or studying haphazardly for my midterms. Then, in my first year of undergrad we came to an interesting topic of discussion — pseudo-individualization. Still one of my favourite topics of academic conversation (that and hegemony. Oooh, the goosebumps I get just thinking about hegemony). Starbucks is just as conscious of a branding effort as Tim Horton’s, but because we are presented with two “different” choices, we get to feel like we made a special, independent little choice, one that was undeniably our own.
So I started turning to the independent coffee shops — the places that had funky wall art and almond milk available as a standard and sometimes had vegan treats under the glass (my personal favourite is still Café Pyrus in Kitchener, which is 100% vegan).
I spent a few years hunkering down in these shops, creating them into “my” space. I’d set up with my tablet or laptop and hammer away, occasionally (hah, more than occasionally) taking to the Internet for distraction. I’d order a water every now and then so I didn’t seem like I was wasting space after buying a single mocha and a cookie. I felt a sense of ownership over the space, like it was my own.
It wasn’t until a bit more than a year in Toronto when I started to lose that feeling of possession over the coffee shops. They weren’t my own. And there were lineups out the door — I’d often stand there, balancing my treat plate on my mug with my tablet in one hand waiting for a table. They were packed to the ceiling with people just like me — people looking for a little coffee place to call their own.
I remember when I told my friend Dave about this and he said that he’s pulled himself out of the coffee shop loop, but when he does go out he prefers the greasy spoons and 24-hour diners. Something about nocturnal nature, I guess. But Dave has also turned into a real coffee gear-head — I still can’t even describe in words the strange coffee apparatuses he has in his apartment, only that there are some glass bubbles involved.
Of course, you don’t have to go that high-concept. I’ve been enamoured with aeropress coffee lately, or even a simple pour-over dripper. Personally, I’ve been using my stovetop espresso maker more and more these days.
I’ve really tried to carve out my own work-and-play space rather than become dependent on a public one. Sure, my desk is a little messy and the lighting is not as cute and flattering, but there’s something a lot more satisfying about the coffee you make yourself (and the work that you do in your own space).
I encourage anyone looking to spend $5.50 on a coffee and an extra $3 on a muffin to try staying home for one this week — try making your own space something you can be just as in love with as those coffee shops.
Here’s a snack I’ve been really into lately — pizza hummus. Pizza hummus is my go-to savoury snack lately. I love regular hummus, but the beauty of it is that it’s so adaptable to new variations.
For pizza hummus, I forego a ton of tahini and instead use a tomato paste, and also give it a nice cheesy, herby flavour. It’s great on naan or celery sticks, but I’m also thinking of putting it on a sandwich soon.
For pizza hummus, you’ll need:
- One 29 oz can chickpeas, drained (liquid reserved)
- One 156 ml can tomato paste
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 large cloves garlic (I’m a garlic fan — use your own judgmnet here)
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Dash of Sriracha (optional).
Blend it all up in a processor, and gradually add the chickpea liquid as you see the hummus needing some help mixing. Depends how liquidy you like your hummus.
Enjoy your afternoon in, friends!