The sun hasn’t come up yet, and I am in the back of my favourite coffee shop across the street from my office. The lamps emit a low, romantic living room light and where I sit has no windows. There is an old-timey clock with elegant hands facing me, so I am not late for work.
I get into the line. The staff behind the counter are considerate but an air of snob, as I don’t look the part of a writer with her leather-bound notebook in a coffee shop. Perhaps I lack their cliché of winter caps in Spring, waxed mustaches, and rock band T-shirts from the past. I laugh to myself, but they don’t offer a smile back; maybe they know I am laughing at them. Secretly, I love their attitude and wish that I did not have to be so overly polite to everyone. They breathe in coolness and exhale confidence.
I order my coffee, a strong brew that keeps me coming back to this place, pay the woman, and find myself a seat. It is not too busy yet, as it is still very early, but the small shop will soon fill up with 9-5ers in search of their caffeine fix. I like to come in before that, despite being an office worker myself, because I like the quiet. People that come in this early are usually looking for a little solace in this bustling city. The only noise I hear is the hiss of the espresso machine, a sound I hold dear, and the dark yet sweet song of a jazz singer. No coffee drinker in the shop looks at me, too fixated on the newspaper, phone, or just off in their head. We all avoid eye contact, taking that little bit of extra time to remain unseen. I don’t mind being invisible here.
I find my sit on a vinyl red leather couch with a few rips and tears but otherwise welcoming. I carefully place my mug, brimming with hot black espresso on the thick-varnished coffee table. I take off my coat, regretting wearing such a thick sweater as I can feel the drops of sweat in my hairline, and take out my notepad to get some writing done. I know, how retro and fitting for a place like this.
The couch breathes a sigh of relief as I sit down on its cushion; its vinyl cover envelopes me into a place of comfort. I take my first sip of my coffee, potent and slightly bitter, and I feel my body, all of its stiff joints and tense muscles, take some relief as the caffeine pulses through my veins. You are welcome– I think to myself as I take another sip.
More people start to line up, but I am far enough away to observe them without appearing to stare. A man and a woman come in together, the man orders a brewed coffee, while the woman asks just shy of too many questions regarding their drink menu. I can see the aggravation in the people’s faces of those behind her, lit up by their phones as they wait, begrudgingly, for her to place her order. Even the man she came in with is tapping his foot in place, perhaps regretting bringing her at all.
I never bring anyone here. I like to think it is my secret, despite the line out the door to contradict me. It is a special place for me, no one knows me here, and I can be anyone but I usually stick to “that girl with the notebook” is what I imagine the staff to refer to me. I don’t want this place tarnished by someone else’s opinion of it, someone to point out its flaws or quirks that I haven’t seen.
For as long as I can, I just want it to be my notebook, my coffee, and those who seek peace in a mug.
P.S. Unfortunately, my coffee shop does not have anything like these muffin tops! These double chocolate treats pairs well with a big fancy coffee (I like this one) or some Homemade Vanilla Almond Milk for the kiddies or those who are sensitive to caffeine.
- 1 cup pure pumpkin puree
- 7-8 Medjool dates, pitted
- 0.25 cup virgin coconut oil
- 2 TBSP cacao or cocoa powder
- Pinch of cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 0.5 tsp fine grain sea salt
- 1.5 cups certified gluten-free rolled oats
- 0.5 cup shredded unsweetened dried coconut
- 50 grams dark chocolate, chopped into small chunks
- 4 tablespoons dried cherries
- Preheat oven to 350F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Add the pumpkin, pitted dates, coconut oil, cacoa or cocoa powder into a food processor. Process until very smooth. They should be no chunks of dates.
- Add the baking powder, vanilla, and salt to the processor and process until combined, 5 seconds or so.
- Add the oats and process for about 5-6 seconds until the oats are combined but still rough—not oat flour textured!
- Transfer mixture to a large bowl and stir in the coconut, chocolate chunks, and dried cherries.
- With a ¼ cup measuring cup, scoop the mixture onto the parchment, leaving a bit of space between each mound. With damp fingers, gently press the tops down slightly so they aren’t dome-shaped.
- Bake the tops for 10 minutes, rotate the pan, and bake for another 8-9 minutes until they are golden brown on the bottom.
- Transfer the baking sheet onto a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Once the pan has cooled, transfer each muffin top to the cooling rack and cool completely.
- Store in an airtight container. They will last about 5 days in the fridge or in the freezer for up to one month.