What is it about coffee shops that lend themselves so readily to crushes? Sure, baristas tend to be cute and nice, but that can be said for many retail workplaces. Does that little spark come from watching them craft something so carefully, so precisely, that's just for you? Is it the counter, that separates them from the rest of us, and lends an air of mystique to the barista folk? Or is it something about the cafe atmosphere in general, a warm and intimate space, that makes you feel a little closer to the people inside it?
And while we're asking questions, what constitutes a crush anyway? It's a rather vague, catch-all word that can be used to describe everything from passionate unrequited love, to a friendly, fuzzy feeling, to a little extra heartbeat when someone says hi. Or is that just the caffeine talking?
These questions, and more, are explored in this funny little zine we picked up the other day, Coffeeshop Crushes: Tales of Love and Lust in Coffee Establishments.
This slender anthology, edited by graphic novelist Nicole Georges and writer Jon Van Oast is an ode to the drama, both real and imagined, that can transpire in coffee shops. Many contributors to this book aren't professional writers - they're just regular kids sharing thrilling, hilarious, and mostly embarrassing tales of coffee crushes. Anybody who has ever swooned over that certain "barista boy" or "barista girl" will feel a sense of camaraderie with the folks in these stories. This particular quote from contributor James Squeaky really made us laugh:
I currently have a crush on two different girls at the coffee shop I live a block away from. Both are girls that I would probably develop minor crushes on regardless; the fact that they help me make the transition from shaking with the pain and headache of not having had my first cup of the day, to shaking with shear [sic] ecstatic joy might be what puts these ideas in my head.
There are also a bunch of charming short comics sprinkled throughout the zine that add a fun, visual element to the reading experience.
Coffeeshop Crushes is published by Microcosm Publishing, a super awesome little company based in Portland, OR, which puts out all kinds of comics and graphic novels, cook books, all manner of zines, and books about bikes, beer, feminism, punk rock culture and history and tons more. Their website is a great site to peruse if and when you're looking for something different than you might find in a regular bookstore (where else are you going to find A Brief History of Buttons?).
If you've ever sustained a coffee shop crush - in the past, present or future - know that you are in good company, and add this quirky zine to your bookshelf. It would also make a pretty non-subtle gift (wink wink!) for that special barista in your life!
Oh, and here's a song from the brand new album all about crushes from Karen O, the front woman of the righteous band the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. You just know you're going to find some good mix tape material on an record called Crush Songs.