Sunday, 12 October 2014


For years I have been trying to make good coffee at home. I posses an array of different types of coffee machines and have tried (and discarded) many brands of the black gold, but I failed miserably. My home made coffee - unlike any baked goods that may accompany it - is barely drinkable. And my memory seems to have the defect that as soon as I put milk on the stove, I forget about it until a harsh stench reminds me that it is burned now. Microwaving does not do any better, so I decided to let go and accept the fact that other people make better coffee. And I am willing to pay them for it.

So it happens ever so often that I pack my computer and some books, abandon the self-imposed social isolation that comes with working from home and wander off into the air conditioned refuge that is a coffee place. Especially since a construction site has sprung up right next to our door and the days are filled with hammering of the Mexican builders.

And although Montrose does not offer the abundance of cafés my hood in Berlin provided, nor the frequency of smokey coffee bars of Zagreb, there are some decent places here too!

One of my favourite cafés is Mercantile on Stanford and Hawthorne. It is situated in an old (i.e. small) shopping strip in a historic residential neighbourhood and is a meeting place for the area. Next to it is a laundrette, that seems to have been there forever. There is another Mercantile in the Rice Village, but I have never been there, so I cannot compare.
You enter from the omnipresent heat through a glass door and are greeted by a chilly breeze. The large bar welcomes the coffee thirsty and adds to the cooling effect of air condition: The wall behind the bar is covered in wallpaper depicting white birch trees covered in snow.
The place is spacious and unlike in others, I have always found refuge and ample room to work (ie. spread my books over the whole table) here. As you look around while you wait for your coffee, you notice the stands and fridges - The café also hosts a speciality shop! Need some organic chips or vegan cookies to go with your coffee? No problem. Or a bottle of wine from far away European lands and a pasta and sauce combo for a quick impressive dinner? You can even brush up on your toothbrush stack here.
If you look further, you find the whimsical outdoor corner hidden in the left back corner. Artificial grass carpet protected with a white picket fence closes off a large table that welcomes group meetings or the sharing with strangers. In front of it a pair of swings hangs leisurely from the ceiling. Yes, real swings!
If you now moan "hipster place!", do not! I have not seen too many in here and also kids are not a pest.  
My favourite is the black leather couch though, where you can cuddle up, sip your black brew and gaze at the intersection outside from a safe distance.
Bar staff is also very friendly and laid back - once I forgot my wallet at home and it was not a problem to go home and get it after I had my coffee.
Oh yes, the coffee is also pretty good, so now you have it.

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