My name is Grace. I write these coffee blog posts as a way of diverting myself, because I think coffee is something most New Yorkers can bond over.
On days when I feel completely alone in Manhattan, I can go to a coffee shop and feel like I belong in a crowd of quiet workers or loud idea-sharers, amongst books of thoughts and thumbed-through magazines.
But, I also go through phases of making my own coffee. My first and greatest coffee shop experience was at The Coffeehouse in Williamsburg, Virginia.
I grew up in The Coffeehouse.
I started going at the age of 10 when it was owned by the Woo family. It changed ownership twice. It was placed into the capable hands of John Brackbill who has since passed away, and then to the Benbow’s who were and are arguably the best couple that ever found each other. It became a family that I constantly miss.
My mom still sends me their flavored coffees. I pour it over into in a large, yellow, polka dot coffee mug the size of my face and sip, staring out my tiny bedroom window in Harlem.
On days when I don’t want to hear the rattles of newly minted New York actors or baristas listing the non-dairy milk options every five minutes, I brew my own Coffeehouse coffee.
I remember the people who called me Gracie, not Grace.
I picture the group of retired doctors at the back tables, southern drawling out their concerns. A group of middle aged women in bike shorts fresh from Jazzercize talk about their daughters’ engagements and their sons that have been deployed. My mom sits across from me in an oak wood chair, hands wrapped around a mug, talking about the future that I’m living in right now. Even when I was 10, I wanted to be a writer: editor of The New Yorker.
It wasn’t a simpler time because time is never actually simpler. But it felt that way.
I go back to The Coffeehouse every time I visit my parents. My high school graduation picture is posted on the wall with a name tag underneath: “Gracie.” I buy bags of beans for my best friend in Manhattan so that we can spend weekend mornings the way my mom and I did, talking about the future with our hands wrapped around a mug of amaretto flavored coffee.
I once asked my dad why he liked a radio host named Dick Lamb, and he told me, “Gracie, everything changes so quickly in life that you try to find something that will always be there. Dick Lamb has always been there.”
Coffee has always been there.