a writers’ coffee shop

If I won the lottery I would open a coffee shop for writers, where writers can caffeinate and dream and write in peaceful, aesthetically pleasing, and food-and-coffee laden surroundings.

It will open its doors at 1130am, perfect for late lunches of pasta, sandwiches, and hearty soup. After that, you can settle down to write, with a potful of coffee by your side and your choice of dessert beside it. Waiters will only murmur gently when they take your order, and then leave you alone, not to disturb you again except when you summon them for a refill or another slice of pie or to give you your bill when you ask.

Brewed Benguet arabica and apple pie at Hill Station Cafe, Casa Vallejo, Baguio City. 13 April 2011.

They will never ask you to leave, even if it’s late. The manager will merely dim the lights gradually as a signal for closing time, which is at 430am, just before sunrise. Then you can move to a breakfast place for eggs and bacon or arroz caldo and go home and sleep. Most writers are more productive at night and the wee hours, anyway, because then there are no more interruptions – phone calls, meetings, and excited people rushing up to you to gab about one thing or another, that may or may not be interesting. Usually it’s not.

There will be free wifi with the strongest possible signal obtainable, and plentiful sockets for Macs and netbooks and mobile phone chargers and tablets inset along the baseboards and on the floor. The password for the wifi will change everyday: “tolkien”, “nickjoaquin”, and “arabica” will be some of them. Because the owner is a writer, and knows a great many words, no password will ever be used twice.

A cozy corner at Hill Station Cafe, where I wrote my Manila Standard-Today column for that week. 13 April 2011

For those who prefer to write in longhand, bottles of Waterman ink in blue-black and South Sea blue (a lovely turquoise) will be offered on a tray to refill a fountain pen, on the house. Other inks of different brands and vintages – J. Herbin, Diamine, Pilot Iroshizuku, Private Reserve, Sailor, Noodler’s  - will be listed on a special menu, like fine wines. Notebooks with guaranteed fountain-pen friendly paper will be offered on the menu’s reverse side – Clarefontaine, Rhodia, Daycraft, Green Apple.

Regulars will have their own personal reserved spaces in quiet corners. My friends will have their own personal chairs with nameplates affixed to the backs, and no one else would be allowed to use those chairs.

Writers Yvette Tan (“Waking the Dead and Other Stories”, a short story collection) and Clarissa Militante (“Different Countries”, a novel) chat at the BenCab Museum cafe in Baguio, 10 April 2011.

There will be a few paintings and photographs on the wall, but most of the space will be taken up with books on shelves, wall-to-wall. Anyone may read them on the premises. There will be memorabilia from writers – one of Butch Dalisay’s baseball caps or old Macs, Jing Hidalgo’s lipstick, a book of poetry by Gemino Abad, with the poet’s annotations in the margins.

At night, around six o’clock, the place will turn into a bar, with beer and nuts and sizzling sisig, so that writers so inclined may get drunk and maudlin and reminisce about the good old days, or raucous and combative and rehash old grudges, as they are so moved. Maybe over the kibitzing a story or poem idea may be born, collaborations made, and money-making schemes hatched.

On weekend nights there will be poetry readings, or open-mic nights, where anyone who wishes can strum the guitar, sing the blues, or perform stand-up comedy.

A dream coffee-shop? A sanctuary of the mind? Who’s to say it cannot come true?

I will buy a lottery ticket tomorrow.

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11 Comments on a writers’ coffee shop

  1. Alex
    1 May 2011 at 11:06 pm (3258 days ago)

    oh what a wonderous idea this is mother XD i want a chair with my own nameplate in a peaceful Kpop-ish fangirly corner of a coffee shop where i can type away at a Mac while nibbling pie or cookies XD lovely~

  2. Mao P
    2 May 2011 at 1:08 am (3258 days ago)

    For the inks I would go. :)

  3. Mona
    2 May 2011 at 9:06 am (3258 days ago)

    A coffee shop with an ink bar! Oh yes :) We’ll have FPN-P pen meets there!

  4. Amer
    2 May 2011 at 9:31 am (3258 days ago)

    Makiki-sosyo ako ha.

  5. JennyO
    2 May 2011 at 10:11 am (3258 days ago)

    Yes, Alex, you’ll have your own space marked off with a framed Heechul picture. :)
    Mao and Mona, instead of a wine cellar, I’ll have an ink cellar. :D
    Amer, sure! Kaya sana manalo na ‘ko ng lotto, para masimulan na ‘to. :D

  6. Juchin
    3 May 2011 at 9:31 pm (3256 days ago)

    tita jen~ (Juchin here) what about tea? ^v^ as I don’t drink coffee, that can be a dilemma for me, hehe…. also, dibs on donating some of my recipes of desserts and tea food (mostly tea food involving French and English pastries) :-D having a tea room would be nice…. /just wistful thinking/ and book cases around the theoretical cafe where writers could leave a copy of their book behind or read while waiting for their nth dose of caffeine

  7. JennyO
    3 May 2011 at 11:42 pm (3256 days ago)

    Hi, Juchin! You’re right, not being a tea drinker myself, I forgot all about serving tea! Don’t worry, we’ll have that on the menu too – black, green, oolong, Earl Gray, and the herbal infusions (chamomile, peppermint, etc.). We can also do, come to think of it, hot chocolate – eh (espeso) and ah (aguada). And I’ll put you in charge of the dessert menu and pastry case. :)

  8. Chito Limson
    4 May 2011 at 8:32 am (3256 days ago)

    Will it be pet friendly? Great idea, Jen. Maybe your digs can be the FPN-P’s official habitat (I wantssss my own chair, too!) — a shelf for inks, ultrasonic cleaner in a corner, free-flowing coffee, a pen display by a featured member for the month, Leigh’s work (video, pen and ink) for sale, calligraphy and cursive writing mini seminars, — the possibilities are endless.

  9. rod
    4 May 2011 at 11:16 pm (3255 days ago)

    ei, invite me in it’s opening, I’d like to try having the night sleep away earlier than I would.

  10. Bea
    7 May 2011 at 10:00 am (3253 days ago)

    Build this cafe and I will be your regular patron. Hehehe. :D
    I-24 hours mo na, kasi I sleep at 10PM hahahaha!

  11. JennyO
    7 May 2011 at 9:22 pm (3252 days ago)

    Chito, yes, it can be the FPN-P headquarters and it’ll be animal-friendly, dogs welcome and there’ll be three in-house cats for everyone to pet. :)
    Rod, Bea, sure, 24 hrs na siya, at kung manalo na ako agad ng lotto, dito natin isusulat ang ating dissertations. :)

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