Thursday, December 27, 2007

Midtown Bean Brews

One of the great aspects of the Midtown scene is the variety of coffee shops. If you are a coffee lover, or a transplant from a larger city, you will welcome the options.

Make no mistake, Starbuck's, a.k.a. the McDonald's of the coffee industry, has swarmed all of T-town and makes a more-than-fair showing in Midtown. But the more offbeat and personable joints are what coax out the burgeoning hipster scene, bygone hippies and weekend liberals.

My favorite place to sit back and let the odor of hot java waft past the nostrils is the Coffee House on Cherry Street. What you find behind the counter is what you'd expect: Oklahoma hipsters with a taste for indie music and thrift store duds serving up the usual beverages with Italianesque names and a healthy (both in variety and ingredients) assortment of nosh. When you turn away from the counter, however, is where you'll find what keeps this Midtowner coming back. There's always an unexpected face in the crowd, and yet, always, ALWAYS a predictable cast of characters. Students from TU come to study and converse; business-types come for a good strong cup of coffee that isn't laden with the "goddess and green"; old hippies come to catch up on the news and relive their days on the fringe; adolescents come to get away and yuppies like me come to be reminded of the liberal enclaves we enjoyed during grad school. In short, nobody here thinks Starbuck's is a coffee shop or thinks that W is the best representation of their values.

Other locales to get your caffeine fix include Double Shot, Shades of Brown Coffee and Art and the Gypsy. Double Shot the the Gypsy are both nearer to Downtown. They both offer the usual coffee choices and a small selection of tea. Double Shot roasts their own beans, which is a nice touch, but the atmosphere is a little harsh for my taste. Gypsy is definitely the most "hardcore" of the two with angsty servers and a "like it or leave it" attitude that fits with its rough neighborhood.

Shades is located on Brookside. The crowd here typifies "cool" in Tulsa. This is where you're likely to find people that look like they are trying to be as counter-culture as the folks on Cherry Street, but you get that "alternative is the new mainstream" feeling. The joint is owned by a former ORU student, and it's not uncommon to hear people talking about their favorite Christian bands or church events. The atmosphere is "safe" and on the acceptable edge of comfortable. The art is worth more than the coffee, in my opinion. Whoever chooses the artists to feature has impeccable taste and a keen eye for talent. I love strolling in to find the new work on the walls and the ceramics shelf.

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