Thursday, July 16, 2009

New Hangout


I have a new favorite place to hang out in Loudon County. I realize that, before I was downsized, my favorite place to hang out was work, but there was a reason for that.

A. I liked my job.

2. My manager was a good person.

III. It was a purpose-driven environment for me.

Since my employment went away, however, my young bride has been on sort of a mission to find something to do with me, other than let me sit around feeling sorry for myself. And I don’t hang out in bars.

One afternoon, sort of by accident (before my downsizing event) we stopped in a place called the Brown Cup Coffee Company, just to see what went on there. We had seen the place several times in Lenoir City, sitting there facing 321 in front of Home Depot. We now found ourselves with a little time to kill, so in we went.

The interior is casual-nice, with a patterned tile floor, a variety of tables – some with chairs, others with stools – and an HDTV in the back corner surrounded by comfy-looking sittery. Across from the television area is the counter, where orders are placed, while the front has a small stage where music is provided on weekends.

Having been there several times since the first, my young bride and I are apparently “regulars” now, as we are recognized by the counter staff, and they know what I want before I order it.

Oddly, the first time we were there, I ordered the chai tea. For those who are unaware, I have, in recent years, become something of a tea person. There is, as always, a story.

Around a decade ago, I decided to try some Earl Grey tea. I did this because that’s what Captain Picard drinks, and, with his educated British accent (didn’t you guys ever wonder why he didn’t have a French accent? I did.) he always made it sound like a real treat. So, on a whim one day, I bought some Bigelow Earl Grey.


At that point I decided that I must not be an Earl Grey tea kind of guy. I was, as normal, mistaken. In 2006, we were vacationing in Walt Disney World and staying at the Beach Club. Being a deluxe resort, it has all the little bells and whistles that make people with expendable funds comfortable (understand, it takes me an entire earth cycle around the sun to accrue the necessary funds to stay at a place like that – and that’s with an employee discount from an incredibly generous person). Some of those things are a coffee maker, a variety of coffees and teas, and a small microwave oven.

One of the teas was Twinings Earl Grey. Since it had been a number of years, I decided to give it another go.

Speaking, once again, editorially: AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!

I really liked the Twinings tea. Since that time, I have also partaken of their Lady Grey, English Breakfast, and Irish Breakfast teas. The latter is my favorite flavor (or should I spell it “flavour?”). I have also acquired a small, two-cup tea press (a generous Christmas gift from my mother) for the making of these excellent drinks.

So, with all that taken into consideration, I decided to try Brown Cup’s chai tea on the recommendation of Dr. Peter Lloyd-Jones, one of my British co-workers in better days.

Allow me to qualify this. I do not, in general, sweeten tea. I got this trait from my father, and it has been a hard and fast with me all of my life. I did not, when I ordered the chai, realize that it is sweetened. But, oh, my lord! With all the other flavors involved, hooo, boy, that’s some good tea!

However, the second time I went there, I had a shot of espresso (all of you who want to put an “x” in that word, bite me). This shot of concentrated coffee made my whole day better. Now, when I walk through the door, they know that I am going to order a double shot of espresso. Last time, I had the barista warm the cup for me ahead of time, and that was even better.

At some point, I will be obliged to stretch a little. They do, after all, have a variety of teas available, as well as espresso off-shoots like machiatto and cappuccino.

If you are a local, and want to check out the menu, you can do so at the Brown Cup Coffee Company's website. They also have a number of baked treats, and will talk coffee and tea with patrons as long as one wishes. The last time I was there, the barista even invited me backstage so I could see how the espresso is prepared.

Local artists are promoted by the display of their wares on the walls monthly, and giving musicians a place to play. It is comfortable there, the drinks and treats are of good quality, the baristas are friendly, and there’s a television. Who wouldn’t want to be a regular?

1 comment:

  1. sounds like the kind of place I used to frequent, my friend Kevin Ramsey (who works night shift, so you may not have run into him) and I used to be regulars at the 11th Street Expresso House (and yes, it was spelled "Expresso" on the sign. story there, can't go into it) -- either way, there were the Wed. Night "open mic" poetry nights, and the incredible ranges of conversation on the front porch for Kev and I and our collection of "Coffee House Kids" ... anyway, the point to this ramble is that Loudon Co. is a bit far for me to drive, but you definitely make it sound nice enough that I will attempt it sometime.