today in c-n-c: a sense of place

April 29, 2009 – 7:43 pm


there are now a few dents in the butcher-block counter and some shop regulars who join bar conversations like they’ve been kicking around for years. the low-tech pastry display — glass-domed saucers — seems a stroke of budgetary genius for the juicy baked goods therein. they attract quite the longing gazes. patrons are beginning to nod at one another, and the smell of concrete veneer is gone. the new forest park installation of coffee and crema, in other words, is starting to really feel like a place.

you wanted to suck in your breath and cross your fingers when shannon took the dive and wrapped his life into a freestanding shop. the mall kiosk had put him on the map; the full-blown retail shop might well wipe him off of it — or become the first real espresso gathering spot in greenville, the best thing in coffee for 150 miles. quite the gamble, it felt like. not that this blog is privy to the books. just the sweat and tears.

we were, initially, skeptical of the commercial, non-pedestrian space. but then most of the cozy cafes in the heavily walked corridors of town have all gone spectacularly bust numerous times over, and without so much as a wistful hiss of a decent spro finishing its pull. it’s greenville, after all. folks like their consumption in large, dedicated spaces with ample signage. shannon is negotiating the difference, and seems like he could pull it off. there are streams of steady business — nearby tech-school students have no other options, it turns out, nor do conventioneers a half-mile in the other direction. great. get ‘em in. bring your friends. join a cupping.

the gleaming gb/5 is a rightful rock star in these coffee hinterlands. the gaggle of nascent baristas are learning a craft from scratch, and wide-eyed. we hear there’s a van — a van — of better-known coffee persons cruising up the interstate for this week’s inaugural event. media coverage, too. and this blog, if it hopes to avoid more limp latte art embarrassment, had better start acquainting itself with an explosive commercial steam wand it has never had reason to use.

latte art throwdowns are so last year. hoedowns, though…