Saturday, October 6, 2007


Why I like independent coffee shops -

On Fridays I began making it a tradition to treat myself to sitting in a coffee shop called Happy Rock in Gladstone Oregon, a small, truly old fashioned, non-trendy town. No chain stores exist in Gladstone; it has a barber shop, this coffee shop, a police station, and a new deli, also independent.
I discovered Happy Rock Coffee Shop after dropping off my 4-year-old at the local Baptist Church preschool (Mom’s Morning Out) last spring, and fell in love it from the moment I stepped foot inside. That first day when I walked in, I saw a group of men, probably freshly retired men, playing cribbage and they looked up at me from their game when I arrived as if to see if I am someone they know. I think they know every other person that walked in.
I ordered my coffee from shop owner Chris who makes me the most beautiful mocha I have seen in my life: all fancy on the top, swirly whipped cream and chocolate syrup. I settle into my seat with my books and journal and laptop to work and the “retired” men notice that I am writing, striking up a conversation with me.
“So, what are you writing?” I tell them I am a freelance journalist for The Oregonian newspaper and I tell them this coffee shop would make a perfect story. As more people come into Happy Rock, the men playing cribbage greet them by name and guests seem to have an account with Chris to pay later. The owner’s girlfriend comes in with her daughter and we talk about writing and God and life.
Next week I go back with my preschooler and the guys playing cribbage remember my name. “What are you writing about now, Cornelia?” they ask.
I think about all the people I want to bring back to the Happy Rock coffee shop. I brought my daughter -- she’s 17 and loves independent gathering places, especially if it is not Starbucks.
I brought my friend Jeanie and we met another lady who had also just discovered Happy Rock cafĂ©. She began playing cribbage with the guys. “Have you ever played before?” I asked her. She rode her bike several miles to get to Happy Rock. “No. But I learn quickly,” she said.
During last summer I did not come as often to Happy Rock but began again this fall when my 4-year-old started back at preschool.
Why do I like independent coffee shops – and stores in general -- so much? I guess I like the small guy trying to make it on his own. The underdog. The guy who has to struggle a bit. I like discovering these types of places and the people you meet in them.
I thought about the woman who was learning how to play cribbage and I thought, Oh, I should try that, but I just don’t have the patience. For now, I just watch them play – and greet all the locals.

Cornelia Seigneur aka Nellie


Anonymous said...

haha im drinking a white chocolate mocha made by jeremy right now.

i love happy rock. i was talking to chris the other day and he said he was looking into buying some blessed beans from some indian monks. how cool is that.

Melanie said...

I was wondering if it would be OK to link to you in my blog? The Happy Rock Cafe is very special to my husband and I as we were one of the first customers at their Grand Opening, and we used to live in Gladstone, frequenting this coffee shop throughout our busy week. We now live across the country, and only get this treat during our one or two visits back home each year. My mom just picked up a couple bags of the Cloud Dancer roast on her trip back to OR a couple weeks ago (she now lives w/us in TN) and we have been enjoying it so much! Love you blog!!


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