I Left My Heart at Blackstone Coffee
As of the New Year I have permanently relocated to Durham, N.C. from Fredericksburg, VA. While I love it here, I’m currently in the throes of homesickness, so I figure it’s as good a time as any to tackle the review of a coffee shop that has more or less become a home-away-from-home for me over the past few years: Blackstone Coffee.
Now, I have to admit – when Blackstone first opened up in Fredericksburg, I hated it on principle. Fredericksburg is a small town, I thought. We can only support so many coffee shops – and my heart belongs to Hyperion.
First of all, the two are great for very different purposes: Hyperion is where you go for a leisurely meet-up, a sunny Sunday afternoon, or to work through the textbook you keep avoiding. You grab a pastry and your favorite drink and people-watch the day away.
Blackstone, on the other hand, is where you go when you need to get. shit. done.
The paper that’s somehow due TOMORROW. The business meeting you’ve been dreading. The NO REALLY WE’RE NOT GETTING BACK TOGETHER talk with your ex. Or even the occasional afternoon when you realize you have no clue where your life is heading or what you’re doing and you haven’t slept enough and GOSHDARNIT YOU NEED SOMETHING CHOCOLATEY.
These are all Blackstone occasions.
Why? First and foremost, I’m pretty sure the secret ingredient in their coffee is crack.
Please nobody launch a lawsuit against me a la Mean Girls. This is, of course, complete hyperbole. But seriously, Blackstone coffee will get me amped up like no other – especially if it’s one of their ridiculously sweet seasonal specials.
Secondly, the FOOD. Their lunch sandwiches are lovely, but once you order a breakfast sandwich (available on a multitude of bagels or a croissant) you will never want to eat anything else ever.
Thirdly, the seating is a great balance – comfortable, but not comfy enough to accidentally fall asleep, and adequate but crowded enough that you just have to get work done to justify hogging a table from the other students shooting stink-eyes at you.
And fourthly – it’s friendly. The staff, the owner, even just the customers – I always leave Blackstone in a better mood than I arrive in. True story: I was once standing in line, bleary-eyed and grumpy from impending term papers, when a gentleman in front of me asked for a recommendation. When I told him he couldn't go wrong with a croissant sandwich, he not only treated me to one but also sized-up my drink order - a veritable goldmine for a budget-crunched college student.
If you're reading this, mysterious stranger, you made my WEEK.
So yes, despite the numerous amazing coffee shops in Durham (I’m currently sitting in one…) I am still longing for Blackstone. I’m not the only one though. I have a friend who regularly requests shipments of Blackstone coffee beans – and she lives in SEATTLE.
Dear Blackstone: Thank you for your crack coffee. Thank you for your sinfully delicious breakfast sandwiches. Thank you for your staff who regularly asked for updates on the papers and readings I was working on. Thank you for getting me through the latter half of college plus two years of grad school. I’m sorry I ever doubted you. Now…could we set up a delivery system please??
What you’re drinking: If it’s fall, get a Pumpkin Pie Latte. No, not pumpkin spice – forget about that crap. Pumpkin Pie (a caramel latte with pumpkin spice) is the way to go. If you’re going for simplistic, the dark roast is always phenomenal. They’ve recently amped up their monthly specials, some of which sound just bizarre enough to be amazing, so be adventurous too.
What you’re eating: A bacon, egg, and cheese croissant sandwich. Just do it. And any day you’re lucky enough to get there before they run out of asiago cheese bagels is a good day. This fall they started serving a chocolate-chip pumpkin spice bread with cinnamon frosting which is unbelievably good (can I get a whole loaf shipped here, please?)
What you’re listening to: I’ve never lacked for good gossip to overhear here. Shhh….
What you’re reading: For better or for worse, politics is the way to go.
What you’re looking at: Staring at your computer screen. Alternatively, you’re staring at the group of retired men hanging around chatting in the middle of the day and wondering why you can’t just skip this whole school and career thing and go straight to retirement.
Bonuses: A rotating art display always keeps things pretty, interesting, and/or bizarre. Plus, they’re so involved in the community – case in point, the 12 oz coffee in the top photo I got FOR FREE for showing up with my voting sticker on Election Day last year. Plus plus they make a point to share your coffee-related posts and photos on their Instagram and Facebook – it’s just a fun place that clearly values their customers, and that’s a great feeling.
Originally published on my previous blogsite, www.coffeemehappy.wordpress.com