“Coffee should be Black as Hell, Strong as Death and Sweet as Love”, a quote I heard for the first time while visiting a coffee shop on the Eastern University campus in the East Falls neighborhood of Philadelphia. “Wow, black as hell, strong as death, sweet as love, I thought to myself, the only thing I know of that is strong as death is love, this is an excellent quote to use in my aphrodisiac cookbook in the chapter dedicated to coffee. Coffee is known to increase levels of dopamine (the neurotransmitter associated with the pleasure system of the brain), it makes you feel “high”, a cloud 9 feeling. What better place to work on a project dedicated to love than in a coffeehouse?
This prompted my search for the perfect location. Center City is the heartbeat of the City of Brotherly Love, and it’s where I work, so began the mission. I visited several locations. The Corner Bakery Café (17th & Market). This café makes a delicious cinnamon crème cake, one that I’m prepared to send across the nation to share with family and friends. The environment was busy, the food good, but not conducive to support my creative writing process, so I continued on. Next, I stopped in Crepesody (18th & JFK). This is a cute coffee shop with a Parisian theme. They specialize in crepes and waffles. I enjoyed a fabulous crepe and the latte menu is brilliant. It inspired me to purchase “I Love Coffee” by Susan Zimmer. I learned that there are many fun and exotic ways to serve coffee. How about Coke and black coffee for a cup of Joe to get you off to the beginning of a lovely day? Even still, it wasn’t quite the place for me to sit and write. On another fine morning, I found myself sitting in Chez Collette (120 S. 17th St.). A French brasserie in the French Quarter section of Center City. It was a divine experience, and yes, I fully enjoyed lavishing in luxury, yet, it still wasn’t quite the place for me to frequent several times a week. I would be remise not to mention the Sarafina Bakery (130 S. 18th St.). Here, I had a surreal experience, first off, the macaroons are the best I ever had, but more importantly, as I sat there with my coffee in hand, taking in the environment, I looked up. There on the ceiling were two heart-shaped cups of coffee that fit perfectly together like pieces of a puzzle. I considered it a message, a sign from the Heavens, a confirmation that I am on the right road. Others that I visited include Caffenation, Bonte, Paganos, Du Jour, Cosi, Brueggers, and good ole Dunkin’ Donuts. It wasn’t until I stopped in Nook Bakery and Coffee Bar however, that I found “my” spot (20th avenue between Market and Chestnut streets).
Nook Bakery and Coffee Bar was love at first inhalation. When you walk through the doors you are pleasantly greeted by the sweet and spicy aroma of fresh-baked goods and freshly brewed coffee. The sounds of Bonobo fill the airwaves, a sort of intellectual chill out groove. The walls are adorned with the work of local artists. Antique furniture pieces among decorative iron rod patio style tables, chairs, benches and comfy couches near the back add to the welcoming ambience. The owners and operators, Mike, the barista and Edna, the baker, both business people, are a lovely couple. This urban chic vibe is expressed in the pastries and coffee. Everything that I have tried has been no less than absolutely, de-lic-ious. The Apple Cinnamon and Sweet Potato muffins are two of the many muffins that I’ve had the pleasure of devouring. The Quiche Lorraine is something to write home about! I cannot get enough of this flaky, savory breakfast pie. It is irresistible. Combined with a cup of black French Press, it is decadent.
When I sit in the sensation of this coffeehouse, I am comfortable, it feels right. The creative energy supports my effort…in the spot where I set up my “virtual office” is a painting called “Connection”, I know that it is my destiny that lead me to this coffeehouse of love, black, strong and sweet.
Very truly yours,
L’Amour…The Way to a Man’s Heart