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When you order coffee, but get served grevious thoughts.
This seldom happens, but it does. Usually, I step into a café expecting a mediocre cup of coffee, a pretentious attempt at being classy, and the most extravagantly unenjoyable service. For me, the atmosphere surrounding the cup of coffee is what makes it special. It makes the brew linger in the shadow of the emotions the environment carries.
Here is the "75th baker street cafe". What can you expect? A rip-off from an exceptional story in the middle of the city, which is saturated with plenty of coffee shops. The quality of the beans would only come into question if, firstly, any of the chairs don't wobble.
But then it hits you. The coffee aroma awakens a unique spot in the brain. And clarity presents itself. It's a small shop at the backend of a quiet street. It is pretty empty for a coffee shop with a trendy signboard on a Sunday evening. There isn't much happening except for the clattering utensils dancing to the beat of the low-volume music.
You start noticing the little things that make it special to someone, whoever that someone may be. All the little things that make the shop so personal. You wouldn't get something like this in a corporate setting, it wouldn't be so...alive.
It seemed homely. Something that Alina would do. A stay-at-home wife to a successful lawyer who begged her husband to spare some cash on her dream project. She made a cafe under her own apartment complex. So many dreams, so few customers.
She browsed the internet for days and decided on getting some exclusive wooden furniture, a blackboard for signs, cute little shelves, and redo everything from the ceiling to the floor. But, the money isn't coming through and things start looking weary.
I ordered an americano. Then, looking at the glass cases, and the beautifully crafted menu, I had to go for a baklava. It gave me the feeling that it would be close to "homemade". The warmth of the coffee made me wonder, how cold did things get for Alina. It was years since I heard from both Sasha and Alina. Not to mention, they had a second child on the way.
Before too long, I realized this cup of coffee was already going to be one of my favorite. There were bar-styled seats right under a window. The window looked out into the residential area. At this time, it's filled with sludge and snow. But can you imagine how much better would the americano feel when it's all green and sunshine outside?
That is what coffee has become to me. Apart from the caffeine fix, it has an emotional bonding. A beverage that dives into the thoughts that would otherwise never resurface. It is the quiet moment where things become just a bit clearer.
The baklava was great. It really went well with the bitter americano, would be excellent with an espresso. With every sip, I noticed more and more people on the streets. Some with the biggest smile, and some with the coldest lips. A homeless guy passed by and I wondered if he ever chooses coffee over vodka. He did give my cup a long stare.
I wouldn't know about you, but this spot is close to perfect. A cozy little space, with a full view of "real" Kharkiv. People in their most original form. No pretending, nothing to hide either. It's that place where you can be left by yourself with your cup of coffee and appreciate what people do when they feel safe, in their neighborhoods. It made me want to smile along with them, and so I did.
I couldn't help but think this was another Alina and Sasha all over again. Those cute little plants were surely an attempt to make the cafe an extension of their home. The nice furniture. But, the extra things that you wouldn't expect in a cafe, maybe they were trying to sell as many things as possible to make some money.
Nevertheless, I was very happy. I had once visited this place. Almost 2 years back. Even at such a difficult time, they have kept going. No matter the ways or circumstances. So yes, I left with a faster beating heart and inspired.
It made me not notice that I got served in a paper cup.