By Elaine Sine
I approached Hammerhead Coffee with the false expectation it would be another Caribou Coffee or Starbucks, reeking with a similar dizzying and overpowering scent of coffee and simultaneously drowning my ears in loud music. According to Hammerhead Coffee’s website, the newly-opened coffee shop opened has “a seasonal and ever-changing menu of single origin coffee.”
It was raining the day I decided to go, and the streets were glazed in a windy cold that constricted my already ailing body. When the bright letters of the Hammerhead Coffee sign finally illuminated my path, I willed my legs to go faster but was weighed down by my stereotyped dread. My goal was just to find sanctuary in the warmth, get a drink and dash out.
When I climbed onto the faux-brick stoop, however, that first step marked the introduction to my growing interest in the café.
The interesting decor surrounding the place conveyed a very relaxed ambiance. The wooden chairs, benches and picnic tables embellishing the space exhibited the essence of a quaint, peaceful park, further accentuated by the green potted plants throughout the café.
Pop art prints depicting iconic figures hung on the walls above lines of benches. A girl hunched over her laptop studying cozied herself in the corner, while on the opposite side of the shop, a couple sitting across me chatted and softly giggled to one other.
Aside from the tastefully modern furniture that caught my attention, what I next realized, and was moderately stunned about, was that the odor of coffee didn’t pollute the place like other coffee shops I had gone to. I don’t know if it was my cold or the shop itself, but the place was only lightly perfumed.
I ordered a matcha latte from the smiling cashier and sat at a nearby table. When the call for a “MATCHA LATTE?” rang clearly across the half-filled space, I returned to the counter to discover a pleasant surprise: the matcha latte came in a teal, stout mug with a white heart carved in the matcha foam. The customized beverage added a personal, unique feel to my experience; I almost didn’t want to drink it because the elegant swirls of the white heart on moss-colored foam was so pretty.
Five pictures of the same cup from different angles later, I finally decided to drink the latte, and not only was it worth it but it raised my standards for how a matcha latte should actually taste. I usually don’t like foam in my drinks, but the milky, sweet thickness made me rather start enjoying foam.
It took a few sips to get through the thick foam to the actual drink, but the silky taste of the latte brought a wave of refreshing warmth over my tongue after experiencing the cold walk on the damp streets 10 minutes before. The balanced blend of matcha and sweetness was not overpowering, and after each sip there wasn’t the harsh, sticky matcha aftertaste I had experienced from drinks in other cafés.
While sipping on my drink and listening to upbeat indie music, I slowly grew accustomed to the comforting space, and discovered that Hammerhead Coffee is the type of place you’d want to be while waiting for the rain to stop, or to take sanctuary in while watching the rain fall.
The longer I was there, the more it grew on me.
The longer I was there, the longer I wanted to stay.
Suffice to say, the view isn’t great: a Marathon gas station blared brightly across the street. However, looking at that Marathon gas station highlighted the distinction between inside and outside. Outside was the dreary world of school, dorms and homework, cold like the weather that exemplified it.
Inside, however, was where you could be you – a space to recollect while wrapped in the intimate atmosphere of this newly-opened coffee shop.
I kept thinking: Once I step out these doors, I’ll be back to school and being a student, continuing on with midterms and the stress of studying, but in any case, I’ll have enjoyed my quiet little bubble of peace in this place that is Hammerhead Coffee.
All photographs courtesy of Elaine Sine