Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Java Journeys: Lookout Joe's

Joe the Plumber doesn't hang out at Lookout Joe's.

You would think he'd frequent a joint that shares a common name, but the night of my excursion in Mt. Lookout, I discovered more North Face and J Crew than I did Dickies or Levi's (or whatever plumbers wear these days).

Lookout Joe's is a nice coffee joint in the heart of Mt. Lookout Square.

I crossed the threshold and found a couple high school students lounging on a big couch near the entrance, engrossed in anything but homework. The girl, swaddled in a hideously over sized sweatshirt, was doing her damnest to deliver her best Sarah Palin impression. I could tell it was an attempt to entice her male counterpart - perhaps Sarah Palin is an inside joke of theirs (or more likely, the inside joke of millions) - but the grating imitation came out more Fargo than Alaska Politician.


I dropped my many belongings with a thud on a round table near the register, swiveling my neck around in search of a barista. The evening was a chilly one, and I had a hankering for a pumpkin spice latte.

I managed to open both my laptop and my literary desire of the moment before I was recognized as a new customer. The crunchy/preppy clerk reminded me of kids I used to go to high school with in New England - you know the kind. They were the ones who wore the wide whale corduroys and nubby woolen sweaters, their disheveled hair falling over their eyebrows as they waxed poetic to you about their plans to follow the Phish tour next summer. The same, contradictory kids who loved holey Birkenstocks and beaten Merrills as much as their used Saabs and Jeep Grand Cherokees.

Yeah, the barista was one of them.

I enjoyed the WNKU tunes on the radio - a nice mix of Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash and other eclectic classics as I waited for my salvation.

My eyes flitted around the room, admiring the wall of fresh coffee beans - practically in every flavor and version you could imagine. Roasted beans from Sumatra and Kona and Colombia - the perfect collection of flavors for true coffee connoisseurs. Being more of a flavored coffee kind of gal, I appreciated the vanilla, hazelnut, chocolate and other expected flavors.

One thing I enjoy about Lookout Joe's is their huge support of the Free Trade movement. They offer several Free Trade certified coffees, meaning a variety of social, economic and environmental criteria are met in the production and sale of the coffee.

Coffee with a conscience. I dig it.

But for the high schoolers, I was the only customer in the joint. There were a few other folks on the front patio - and a couple other people came and went to buy beans or coffee to-go, but otherwise this wasn't a hangout hot spot (but then, what is on a Tuesday at 9 pm?).

I was glad to see the wi-fi, but was a bit disappointed patrons needed a key to access the network. Not wanting to disturb the come-and-go clerk, I opted to take advantage of another free-and-unlocked wi-fi network in the neighborhood.

I like Lookout Joe's. It's in a great neighborhood and I kind of like rubbing elbows with the young folks.

But from the looks of it, Lookout Joe's hasn't updated their website (or their store) since 2006. Perhaps it would be a bit busier if it was more inviting?


Evan said...

"but the grating imitation came out more Fargo than Alaska Politician."
Well, let's be honest.. Palin is one step out of Brainerd...

If you want to see Lookout Joe's busy, swing by on a Saturday or Sunday morning. They used to have someone come in and make fresh waffles and crepes on Sundays.

The one thing I really like about living right around the corner from Lookout Joe's is that I can always smell when they are roasting a new batch of beans.


andree said...

WNKU is the only station on in my car! Little Steven's underground garage is on Saturday's @2 I highly recommend it.