Blog post No. 427
Right off the hop, I want to point out that while the location Huron Line is gone, the Anchor Coffee House and bakery in Walkerville is going strong. I’m ecstatic that they have managed to keep the Walkerville location open during the pandemic. Sadly, due to heightened risk, I haven’t been much support. I am enjoying a cup of local Chance coffee while I write this. I bought a bag when I stopped by to pick up the books that had been for sale at the Huron location. It’s good, but nothing replaces actually going there. The atmosphere, the people, the other customers—there is something special about going to a good local coffee shop and spending a little time enjoying a good beverage.
I’ve never been a Starbucks fan. I give the chain credit for giving the cafe industry a boost in the arm, I just don’t like their coffee. (They burn it). I do really love the phrase they coined and a concept they promoted—the third place. If home and work are the two major locations in a person’s life, they wanted the cafe to be a third place where people go, spend time, and ultimately, spend money. (I’ll never begrudge a company for making money. That’s kind of the point of businesses). While Starbucks has never done it for me, I have always craved that third place. A cafe where I can go hang out with friends, have a drink and maybe a snack, and (before the days when I actually wrote) discuss big dreams.
Adventure Worlds Press was born one evening when Justin and I were spending time at Coffee Exchange one evening. The majority of my first finished story for the early website was written there, too. (Longhand in a notebook). The early crew met at Cafe Mondo when they were at the outlet mall in LaSalle. We did some sessions at Tim Hortons too, but while the coffee at Tim’s is fine, it’s not nearly as comfortable for a group of people to sit at a table for hours on end writing. Sure, the Writing Wrecking Crew has been known to do that, but even though it’s cheap, it’s not the same as a local cafe and it’s definitely more awkward as a solo adventurer.
My mother first told me about Anchor. She was working nearby at the time and since she’s a really good mom, she knew I was looking for a place to get a good coffee. I stopped by and had an awkward conversation with one of the owners about coffee and learned that I didn’t really know much about it. I went over to a table and sat alone with my laptop, trying to stay out of the way. It wasn’t busy at the time, but before I left, the place was packed for it’s usual lunch rush. It didn’t take long for me to realize how nice the staff was and I took up a spot at the bar on future visits.
Most of Neon Heart was written sitting at the bar, furiously typing between engaging conversation between whoever was working and the other customers. Whenever I had to go write solo, I knew I had a place to sit and write. I got to enjoy all kinds of amazing coffee, including a crazy expensive and rare cup, and learned a lot about how coffee is roasted and brewed. I’m sure I overstepped a few times, but I really felt welcome there. The Walkerville location is great, but that strip mall cafe on Huron was a five minute drive away.
More than once I left practically shaking from having an extra espresso shot or two with whoever came in for their caffeine fix. I started mornings with a great quick meal and a some relaxing conversations before heading into work on the rare days when I started late. It was definitely my third place. I was able to enjoy myself while I got some serious work done. Like I said, I couldn’t be happier that they are still killing it in Walkerville and when I can more safely manage it, I plan on making the trip out there as part of a routine. Not just for the great cup of coffee, but to see the people I genuinely miss.
There was something special about the Huron location and I already look back on it as one of those fundamental times in my life. I went to tea tastings there, saw albums being launched, crammed in for the anniversary parties, and they sold books for me taking zero percentage. It was a cool place filled with awesome people and great coffee.