I woke up this morning to the most perfect San Francisco day. After a night of rain, the sky was blue and the sun was shining. It was the perfect day to blow off everything and hunt down the perfect cup of coffee. And I knew the perfect place to find it. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect. I hopped in my car and drove South across the Golden Gate bridge. Yes, the coffee I was headed for, having only tried it once 3 months ago, was worth not only the drive but the $5 toll too. Located at 46th and Judah, Trouble Coffee is probably one of the better kept secrets around. I heard about it from a friend and I can't imagine too many people just stumble upon it. But those who do, come back. The space itself is a intensely interesting, from the boots that hold the door open to the long counter with old tyme stools with regulars perched on them silently sipping their coffees or chatting with the lone barista, on this day a girl name Jenny. Most of them have a slice of cinnamon toast that they are slowly savoring as your more "traditional" grab and go customers come in and get their orders. I was in a lingering mood this morning, though I had thought before arriving that I would grab my coffee and a slice of the toast which I had heard was legend, but hadn't tried the last time and head down to Ocean Beach and hang out there. But once I was there, I felt like lingering. Whether it was the open seat in the window or the fascinating assortment of stuff on the walls, I just wanted to hang out there. Even the barista sensed it as I handed over my cup ordering a hesitant Americano. I wasn't sure I was in the mood for an Americano, but a latte wasn't really it either. I thought maybe my new staple a Yankee Dog/ Mezzo, which is about 3/4 Americano with a glug of steamed milk and foam (about 1/4 Cappucino). Jen sighed and said, "what is it with people and Americano's today!", I was feeling not super compelled to have an Americano so I took that opportunity to say, "well, I am not really committed to an Americano, so what do you have in mind?" She responded, "Do you want a sipping drink or something quick?" I tend to drink every coffee drink way too darn fast even when I order it extra hot, so I relayed such. She said she had just the thing. I ordered a toast as well. Good coffee takes time and does not get produced at the touch of a button. When I have to wait for coffee, I take it as a good sign. She put my extra thick slice of bread in the toaster and went to work on my drink. I settled in at a stool in the front window and my order was ready in no time. She buttered and cinnamoned the perfectly toasted bread and handed over what she called a Gibraltar. The "Mayor" Jerry who is obviously a true character and also a regular said it would have me spinning in a few minutes. It was served in a large shot glass and most closely resembled a Macchiato, but had a hint more of steamed milk that just foam. It was also combined in reverse, so the steamed milk went in, then the shots. It was inspiring (ha, you thought I was going to say perfection, which it also was), the toast was too. I love profoundly simple things. Bread, butter, cinnamon, toasted. Uncomplicated coffee which is just plain good.
I continued to linger there, feeling very at home there and not wanting to relinquish my spot as more people came and went, each seeming to have a sly smile on their face like we were all apart of a very cleverly concealed secret. I finally walked out, coffee gone, cinnamon toast demolished. I considered getting another coffee to go, but since I was told the Gibraltar would have me spinning, I decided not. Outside the "Mayor" and another regular had posted up on the bench and we go into talking about books, what one does on sunny days like today (we agree that the headlands or a park were the place to be) and Portland. As I left, I just couldn't help but feel like for a moment there I was immersed in community, connection and belonging. I came for a cup of coffee and left with an experience that was completely uncontrived even though there are some things about the place that I think are contrived ironically and intentionally. I belonged in Trouble and I like it.