Wednesday: A Short Tale of Anxiety

Broad and Walnut, okay, uhhh where am I going again?

COFFEE, RIGHT. But where? Square One…ooh or maybe Plenty Cafe. Toast, even? Let’s go with Plenty, yeah. That’s on Pine, right? Totes, let’s go to Pine. Okay am I going up or down? I think it’s by 13th Street. No, no 16th Street. No. Yes…Uhhh, yes, yes whatever I’m going this way.

Okay…it’s not here. Where did it go? I know it’s at 16th and Pine. Wait, no that’s that other place I like. Well what the hell, it’s somewhere around here right??? 16th Street FOR. SUREBut if not Pine…then what? Agh I swear this place just got up and moved to spite me. I’m going to find you Plenty Cafe, you can run but you can’t hide!

Oh, it’s on Spruce. I knew that. Heh..

People…coming from the opposite direction… They look like they’re about to go inside too. There’s three of them. There’s not enough room for all of us in there. I’m going to speed up and get a seat before them. HAH, yesssss one seat left upstairs. It’s mine, ALL MINE. 

It is, I put my bag down. That’s only like…the universal sign of NOT YOURS, TRY AGAIN. Phew that was a close one. Now for coffee.

Lines… I can tell these people are not of the coffeeshop scene. They’re actually reading the menu. How do they not know what they want already? All I want is an iced dirty chai latte and they’re so…in my way. And they’re paying separately??? Didn’t they spend enough time telling this poor barista everything they wanted as if it were one bill? THE AGONY I’M SO CLOSE TO COFFEE YET SO FAR. I DO NOT HAVE THE PATIENCE FOR THIS…I HAVEN’T CONSUMED IT YET, BECAUSE. OF. YOU. PEOPLE.

FINALLY IT’S MY TIME TO ORDER. Iced dirty chai please and thank you. I can sit now, and be merry and set up my workspace.

This is my happy place.

This is what being responsible looks like. Laptop out. Charger in. Phone charging too. Book and notes laying beside my computer. Yes, here we go. Access Internet. Go to musicplaces.online annnnnd, my headphones…

Where are my headphones?

Pocket? Pocket? Pouch? Other pocket? Hidden pocket? Side pocket? Other side pocket? WHERE ARE THEY???

You. Idiot.

You knew you didn’t have them. You haven’t seen them since you got back from vacation.

But I refuse to believe they’re lost or that I left them. I’ve had many dark periods where I couldn’t find my headphones, but I never lost hope! And eventually, whether it be days or months later, I would always find them again. This time can’t be the time I lose them for real. No. NO. Let me check again.

Aaaaaaaaaghhhhhhh. I told myself to get a new pair before I got here. Oh my gosh they’re playing The Bird is the Word why Plenty Cafe, WHYYYYYYY.

I feel so…trapped. I need my music. How am I going to focus? How am I going to non-verbally tell people not to talk to me? I feel the stress, crawling out of the dark abysmal corner of my mind. It’s coming to take me away. And there’s nothing I can do to stop it. Should I just leave and go buy a new pair? But what if my spot isn’t here when I return? What then? Where to go, what to do? Oh my gosh, there’s no way out. No way out.

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Square One Coffee

My favorite spot to blog hands down has got to be Square One Coffee. Their original location is in Lancaster, PA, but their Philly location, on S 13th St, just past Spruce, opened earlier this year.

I found Square One completely by accident. I was playing assistant for Pablo Batista, an amazing Latin percussionist who was rehearsing with his band The Mambo Syndicate for their jazz residency at the Kimmel Center. Pablo sent me on a coffee run, and I knew he hated Starbucks so I went around to look for a local shop. It was just nearing 8pm, so every shop I found had closed or was close to closing. Then I walked down 13th St, about to concede defeat and grab some Starbucks,

and that’s when I found Square One.

The two baristas were bringing in the outdoor seating and they were generous enough to make one last drink for me since they hadn’t turned off their cappuccino machine yet.

I guess you wouldn’t consider it new anymore, but back when I went, they were on their 3rd day of business. They hadn’t even had an official grand opening. The little hipster inside my head was rather pleased at our find. But I’m getting distracted.

I told them I needed something strong but pretty sweet, large, and make it two. Mac (she’s the best), made me caramel lattes and I sipped mine and it was flipping great. Back then I had only really used Starbucks as my office, and I didn’t even know of the wonderful world of local coffee shops. As you can see I haven’t been the same since. Square One was the true descent into my deep espresso addiction. It’s the gateway. I of course didn’t stay for long because I had to get back to the Kimmel, and when I gave Pablo his coffee, he flipped out too. Square One then became the fuel behind the whole Kimmel production. I went four days in a row.

That was a longer story than I had planned it to be. Anyways! On to my reviewing bit.

Coffee
As I already described, their coffee is fan-freaking-tastic. I live on their caramel lattes, but their vanilla lattes are great too and they let me try a glass of their cold brew one day and it was actually pretty good. From someone who likes all the creamy and all the sweet, I actually enjoyed it. I’d still prefer all the creamy and all the sweet, though. Also, during the summer they had affogattos, and that was pretty amazing and I wish I didn’t have to wait for next summer to have another one.

Service

The Square One baristas are my good friends now, having spent so much time in there. We follow each other on Instagram, so you know it’s legit. They’re all great, super helpful and friendly, and open to random conversation. There is no pretentious air in there, everyone is of the utmost chill. If you sit down before they finish making your coffee, they’re happy to bring your drink over to the table if they don’t have other guests to take care of. They’d probably even give you a hug if you asked. My friend who works there even let me film behind the counter for my media project (that’s where I filmed my coffee piece in my video), none of which I ended up using. For SHAME. But it was still pretty cool she let me film.

Variety

You know, I haven’t even paid that much attention to what else they have on the menu besides my beloved caramel latte. Oh wait, they have assorted pastries! Yeahhh I’ve eaten baked goods there. The brownie is ridiculously good, and their cupcakes are great too. I think my friend had a chocolate croissant once and she liked it. I actually don’t even know if they have meal-ish food like sandwiches. They…might. But!  Square One is surrounded by food stuffs, and they don’t have any rules against outside food. Or at least if they do, nobody has yelled at me yet. There’s a little deli right on the corner of the block and I’ve had good stuff from there. There’s also some pizza and sushi spots around. So yeah, you can easily chill in Square One all day like it’s your job. And I do, all the time.

Atmosphere

I love Square One’s layout. It’s a really big space, and instead of crowding it with sitting space, they kept it really open. All the seating is along the walls, and the counter is right in the center of the shop. There’s a glass storefront, so there’s tons of natural light.

square one instapic

Look at how BRIGHT! Also, those flowers are REAL!

Yellow is their theme color, which makes me happy. Because yellow is my favorite color. And sometimes yellow can be overwhelming and so happy that it’s offensive, but they utilize it perfectly in my humble opinion. Also, they had their espresso machine custom painted yellow, and it looks fantastic. They play decent music in there too. Well, it varies. Some days it’s all these awesome old tunes that force you to sing along and then quickly remember that you’re in a coffee shop and people are trying to get work done. Like True by Spandau Ballet, and You Get What You Give by the New Radicals. I get nothing accomplished on those days. And I’m not even mad about it, because unsolicited karaoke is too much fun. And then other days it’s like indie coffee shop playlist. Which is iight. But they don’t play it very loud, which is appreciated, and I usually play my own music from my laptop.

Bathroom

Square One’s bathroom is definitely one of my favorite coffee shop bathrooms. Actually, it seems like Philly coffee shops take great pride in having fabulous restrooms. Rivals’ is nice, Elixr’s is really cool, Chestnut Hill Coffee Co makes me wish I had to go more often…Is that weird to say? Eh, whatever, you just have to see it. Anyways, Square One’s bathroom! It’s a decent sized bathroom. Like I could have a one person dance party in there. And that’s saying something when you just picture five feet and twelve inches of limbs flailing all over the place. That could be dangerous in small quarters. But I could have a dance party in there. So you have so much space while using the facilities. And there’s a yellow chandelier in there! It’s cute. It’s always clean and looks clean in there. And they have that industrial, blow-the-skin-right-off-your-hand dryer! I love those things. Their toilet is weird though. It’s like this environmentally friendly commode, and you can kick it up or down depending on how much water you need. I have no clue if I’ve ever flushed it correctly. I can at least say I’ve tried to use less water. It’s entirely possible that I’ve been flushing down extra water by accident. Oh well, if anyone more competent than me figures it out, which you probably will, please tell me how it works. Thanks friends.

So anyway, that’s Square One, my favorite shop to date.