Marissa Does Portland -- and Haunts Bard | Blogs

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Marissa Does Portland -- and Haunts Bard
Marissa Does Portland -- and Haunts Bard

"Sometimes life is merely a matter of coffee and whatever intimacy a cup of coffee affords." -- Richard Brautigan

All of the literary giants had their haunts. Iconic places they frequented that eventually took on the shape of their tales.

Hemingway and Fitzgerald had the Ritz Bar in Paris. Portuguese poet, Fernando Pessoa, is immortalized in bronze outside the Café A Brasileira in Lisbon. Jack Kerouac, Dylan Thomas, Norman Mailer, and Hunter S. Thompson all spent many a drunken evening at the White Horse Tavern in New York City. Naguib Mahfouz penned more than a few stories at a cafe in Khan al Khalili in Cairo.

And while today I am a nobody — a quiet, unnoticed writer and producer — I am ready for my future as a literary giant; I already have my haunt.

And I thank the City of Portland for that.

Coffee shops are one of the most charming aspects of Portland — particularly for someone like me with a chemical dependency on caffeine and an affinity for reading in public place.  The Old Port is spotted with them. They’re all small and cozy, with a loyal, local patronage. And I tried them all. I’ve sat at their tables, on their bar stools, and their comfy couches. I drank more lattes and cappuccinos than any one (tiny) human being ever should. And they all have something special.

But one in particular has claimed me.

Bard Coffee has become my caffeinated home away from home. I half expect them to ask me for a rent check at the end of the month.

From the road, you could very well walk right past Bard without even knowing it was there. Only a small brown sign hangs high above the windows, subtly coaxing in sleepy-eyed patrons. And the showy Starbucks right across the street could very easily steal you away but fight that urge and you’ll be pleased with yourself and with Bard.

So if and when you do make it inside, it’s a combination of an upscale, relaxed coffee house and a hip, artsy coffee shack. It’s clean and quiet. The walls are spotted with local art and the most perfect tunes ooze out of the stereo system. It has all of the right elements in precisely the right amounts. And because of that, everyone seems to feel at ease within the confines of Bard. Hipsters rock out under their oversized headphones at a table right beside businessmen enjoying a cup of joe on their lunch breaks. Young guys talk to their pretty little dates as they sip nervously on their chai tea on the love seat in the corner while married couples run out of things to say over their coffees.

Aside from the ambiance, the drinks they have to offer are plentiful and delectable.

Whether it’s a latte, a cappuccino, macchiato, vietnamese, chai tea or a french pressed house blended coffee that titillates your taste buds, you won’t leave wanting. Everything tastes better than it should and gives you that necessary jolt we’ve all come to love and expect from coffee. The only thing I’d like to see on the menu would be a Middle Eastern inspired Turkish coffee (hint hint).

And while the guys and gals that work behind the counter at Bard make the best lattes this side of the Atlantic, they’re a treat in and of themselves. Everyone that waltzes through the double doors is greeted with a smile and, more often than not, some witty banter. I’m not sure how they do it, but they get to know most of their loyal customers by name and those of us that  love Bard love the crew as well.

Oh, and they make the prettiest little designs on their coffees. I love pretty coffee.

So here I sit, in my literary haunt… hoping that someday the tales I tell involve this special little house of coffee that I’ve found.

I think I’ll take just one more latte to go for the walk home through this unfortunate March snowstorm.

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