29 January 2015

Solution to the Equation: Winter + Cycling = Coffee

Under the Toyoko Line on Komazawa Dori - Gohongi
My first regular weekend morning rides on a road bike, in the countryside outside Bethesda, Maryland well over a decade ago, often ended with coffee (or latte, or espresso) at a Starbucks in Potomac -- the most "social" part of a social ride.

Eventually, a new, local coffee shop opened up in Poolesville, near our usual turn-around point. In the winter, when the warmth of the shop, the smell of hot coffee, and the caffeine pulsing through the veins after we remounted and accelerated out on the road, was especially attractive, our coffee stop shifted to mid-ride.  Indeed, good coffee is almost an essential part of a social ride.  The ride makes the coffee taste better, and the coffee makes the ride better.  After all, caffeine is (within limits) one of the few legal performance enhancing drugs.

Sometime in the past year or so, a new shop opened up along my commute home - a spacious high-ceilinged coffee shop under the Toyoko Line at Komazawa Dori - Streamer Coffee Company.  The open, airy design looked like a good place to hang out, read, open up a laptop.  Very much like something one might see in Old Pasadena in Southern California, or in Seattle or Portland.  It is one of several in the trendy SW Tokyo chain, whose owner, Hiroshi Sawada, is a kind of "celebrity latte artist".

Riding by, I could not help but notice the bike rack in front, a bike hanging from another wall rack inside, and yet more bicycle parking to the left of the door ...  I sensed a theme.

But I had never managed to stop.  Most evenings, it was already closed (8PM) when I would pass. Other times, I was just on a mission to get home, or trying to maintain a quick pace on this flat section of Komazawa Dori.

Today, I stopped.

The shop looked almost deserted from the outside, but in fact, there were 5-6 customers, all further back and to the right hand side.  One woman took my order and chatted with me while another, the barista, served an impressive looking latte in large, bowl-like cup.  It took both hands to move this massive cup toward my lips.


I will go back. And bring a good book.

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