Tupelo au lait

by juli boggs

I know that 3/4 of my blog posts are about coffee, but I don’t think that’s wrong. Wherever you go, coffee is to be found, and if it’s not then you clearly weren’t meant to be there. From blasé corporate chains to protective local haunts, every coffee shop has its unique atmosphere, and what coffee “should be” changes from city to city.

In Sacramento I have experienced the good and the bad. Naked Coffee is a local chain that I find myself at from time to time, and their midtown Naked Lounge on Q and 15th is always an experience. Last time I was there a woman passed out at the counter and an ambulance had to be called after moving her to a couch. The time before that the baristas wouldn’t stop harassing the customers with the most atrocious 90s format radio, all the songs we hated even then. Come to think of it, even the time before that a man was chased down by the cops right outside the window and we all just sat there watching squad cars block off the street as he was cuffed and questioned.

A somewhat less action-packed branch is Tupelo over in east Sac. Due to it’s proximity to CSU Sacramento it’s always full of glassy-eyed students highlighting in text books as they reference wikipedia on their laptops, and has a certain  library stillness about it, which is perfect if you’re actually seeking sanctuary to get work done. I found myself here last Tuesday to kill some time and was happy to settle down on an empty couch beneath the sky lights. Recently they’ve rearranged to make room for more seating, but the place still has a wide-open feel no matter how crowded it gets.

The Naked Coffee menu is a little gimmicky, the way so many California drinkers seem to prefer it, but an item like the “Kerouac” (four shots of espresso poured over cream and shaken with ice) is as delicious as an indulgent specialty drink by any other name. Typically my standard rating system for a shop is based on their preparation and presentation of the most basic caffeinated staple: a double americano. Feeling somewhat more summery than that, yet less than going all out for something like the Kerouac, I ordered a cafe au lait and sat down to await my fate, however it may come. I was immediately calmed and even a little impressed when a young guy carefully place a clean black coffee mug before me filled to the brim with a delicious medium roast, not too hot, topped by perfect milk foam. Do I seem neurotic? No matter- the competence of a Tupelo barista has saved Sacramento. For now.