You can tell a lot about a town by its coffee culture. Where I have lived and worked on the east coast, it’s easy to find whatever you like from corporate coffee to privately owned shops with well made, hand crafted drinks. I was partial to Green Bean in Gladwyne where their beans are roasted at the Chestnut Hill coffee roasters. Their coffee has a caramelized flavor and nutty aroma. Of course there’s also a Starbucks pretty much ten minutes drive in any direction, and like many sub/urbanites, I have their app on my phone, and a stop at Starbucks if it was convenient was part of my routine.
But every latte I drank in every coffee shop over the last few years that I’ve been a bi-coastal dweller dividing my time between points east and Twisp Washington has been a search for the kind of perfection pulled and poured into every shot at Blue Star Coffee Roasters.
Blue Star, named for state highway 20 where their local store is located, roasts their own beans on the premises and date stamps each bag. At $3.50 for a large latte–no extra charge for soy milk–it’s not only the “Best espresso in America” according to a 2012 taste off in Seattle; it’s the cheapest hand pulled shot money can buy. Their coffee cards are stored on a Rolodex on the counter and hand stamped by the barista, who also hand picks his or her own wardrobe instead of the uniforms worn by his or her corporate counterpart. Yesterday, I asked if I was able to put money on my card, and the barista rang it on the register and hand wrote the amount on the back. Ironically, the total with a large soy latte and an equally large molasses cookie from the Okanagon Bakery was $25.25.
If you’re as old as me, then you might remember the darkly futuristic ditty by the same name (minus the dollar sign and decimal point) recorded in 1969 by Zager and Evans. It seemed fitting to me as I savored the fruits of Blue Star’s old style, human scale operation.
It’s all well and good to want to make millions of dollars and to create jobs and contribute to the fair trade coffee growers of the world. But world dominion comes at a price. There’s no substitute for the local, human, hand crafted. It is a small world, after all.