I’ve worked in San Antonio, off and on, for years. There were a few big expo-style events, liked the feel of the town, and then, when the now-defunct “headshop” closed, I set up shop in – justifiably arguable – the best coffee shop this side of Milan. Milan, Italy.
Maybe even better, it’s not like I’ve been to Italy anytime recently. So The “best west of Milan” isn’t a valid comparison. However, the top three, in my book? Have to be Gachet in Dallas, Cafe Vita in Seattle, and the aforementioned Jupiter.
To properly test a coffee shop, order an espresso. Maybe a double. Tiny saucer. Little spoon. Most Europeans add a teaspoon of sugar, maybe a lemon twist. But that’s not needed. The creamy head, that’s the clue. More is better, and it should be frothy foam, but without bubbles. Imagine a picture-perfect glass of Guinness Stout, only, in miniature. That’s the real test.
I started collecting images some time ago. It’s hard to separate business from pleasure, and part of the appeal, the sign that’s become like an icon for me, that’s on Interstate 37, headed into town, not the most direct route to the coast but generally the fastest. All I could find on the radio, for years, was heavy metal (99.5 KISS rocks), and several flavors of Conjunto (Tejano or Norteneo).
What makes it appealing is that there’s this incredibly rich tapestry from a clash of cultures and local, native observers seem to miss it. Or maybe I’m just jaded. Or perhaps, I have that tourist eye. I’m, like, a visitor.