An Unexpected Coffee Break

A writer and a photographer walk into a coffee shop. Usually, this would signify the beginning of a bad joke, but for two new Edible interns, this offered a break in a day rich with unexpected obstacles. As seasoned college students, one senior at Kent State and one junior at Hobart and William Smith, the prospect of summer break comes with a relief in the stresses of schoolwork but an increase in pressure to make those three plus months worthwhile. In late December, snow settling on the pavement, my thoughts turned to summer. Why such a big jump in seasons? I knew that this hot cocoa in my hand would soon turn cold. I would still not have a job for those few sacred months away from school. The search had to begin.

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Maple Brevé

After countless emails and phone calls, Jackie and I both landed intern positions at Edible Cleveland Magazine, eager to dive into a field of our interests. One of the first independent projects we discussed was the idea of collaborating on a Farmers Market blog series. I would write and Jackie would shoot. Farmers Markets bridge communities and connect local livability with rural fertility, so the opportunity to explore several settings was intriguing. The goal of the blog is to visit 12-15 different Farmers Markets throughout the summer and document the stories we uncover.

Last week, Jackie and I embarked on our first adventure to Coit Road Farmers Market. The GPS directed us safely to Coit Road but a vacant lot with abandoned pavilions stood where a market should be. It seems they no longer run on Wednesdays, only Saturdays. Great, now what?

Confused, dejected and desperately not wanting to abandon our trip, Jackie and I Signs_webdrove into the Heights area to regroup. I instinctively turned into the parking lot behind Phoenix Coffee on Lee Road, enticed inside by the aroma of ground coffee beans. Is it possible to be a coffeholic only for the smell? For a girl who doesn’t drink coffee, I will be spending a lot of time in coffee shops this summer. I might be tempted for a taste but mostly crave an atmosphere that brews creativity.

Nestled at a table by the window, we decided our first blog post needed a new direction. I could write about almost anything, but Jackie didn’t have anything to shoot. Wait, we were in a coffee shop. We work for a local food magazine. Yep, it was time for a coffee inspired photo shoot. I approached the counter, explained who we were, and expected a recommendation for one or two of their most popular drinks for pictures. Instead, an enthusiastic Pat Mahoney, “Cool Hand Mahoney” as he referred to himself later, buzzed with ideas and spat out orders for drinks. The hospitality and excitement for our work was overwhelming. Kenny and Adam immediately began crafting each drink with efficiency and precision. We pressed play on a moving picture that lacked a pause button. There was no stopping them. Mugs clinked, steamers ignited with powerful gusts of air and the smiles on the interns’ faces grew.

Kenny demonstrates the pour over technique with their new Nicaraguan blend

Kenny demonstrates the pour over technique

A slew of foreign coffee terminology was thrown at us, to which we replied with a smile and a nod. They could’ve given us anything and we would be happy. While Jackie cradled her camera and scouted out the space, I flipped to a crisp white page in my journal. The photographer, petite in stature, towered over the artfully foamed coffee, her black woven sandals pouring off the edge of the wooden chair. Camera in hand, a slight crease formed in her brow as she peered through the lens. Her concentration buzzed along with the beat of the brewing, foaming and pouring sounds that echoed through an atmosphere that can only be described as coffee shop chic. Some customers looked around questioningly at the shifting cups, mugs and silver trays. One man asked if he needed to move, to which Jackie replied tentatively with an “if you don’t mind” and an apologetic smile. “Anything for art” the man pronounced. Only in Cleveland Heights.

Cortado

Cortado

The long wooden slab table hosted an assortment of drinks that were almost too beautiful to drink, but Jackie and I took our chances. Espresso, Cortado, Latte, and Maple Brevé. As coffee amateurs, the Maple Breve was completely new to us, but after one sip Jackie fell in love. “I literally love my life right now,” she professed. When the photographer is happy, everyone’s happy, not to mention hyped up on caffeine. As I looked around at the exposed lightbulb fixtures hanging delicately from the ceiling, the dyed burlap sack art on the wall and an engrossed photographer prompting Cool Hand Mahoney on a special action shot, I felt time still. The softly lit interior cradled amidst a torn up, construction ridden Lee Road offers peaceful tranquility.

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Cold Brew

Jackie and I could not stop talking about our experience while we got lunch at The Stone Oven. It could have been the coffee, but I think we were hyped on the adrenaline from the shoot.

So, when a writer and a photographer walk into a coffee shop, expect an excess of caffeine, a melting pot of laughter with the rapid click of a camera, and two delighted interns. For our first venture in the world of blogs, this experience could not have been more successful. Phoenix Coffee on Lee Road now has two very loyal customers.

Look for these markets in future blog posts:

Haymaker Market

Tremont Farmers Market

Brunswick Farmers Market

Gateway 105 Farmers Market

Chardon Square Association Farmers Market

Mentor Farmers Market

Battery Park Market

Willoughby Outdoor Farmers Market

Kamm’s Corners Farmers Market

Frostville Museum Farmers Market

Geauga Fresh Farmers Market

— Story by Sarah Kloos, Photos by Jackie Stofsick