Just when I thought there was a conspiracy to rid the Village of its best coffee retreats (Space Untitled became a polyglot, music blaring, product showcase, and Coffee Cuisine surrendered to Leo's Place which then went out of business), Think Coffee quietly appears, almost like an afterthought, an "oh, by-the-way" place that makes its predecessors seem childish and awkward.
I'm not talking about a Starbucks kind of place which has become such a formula that you can almost measure the smiles and hospitality, or the first genuine coffee houses in the Village like Caffe Reggio and Cafe Figaro. I'm talking about the new-style, Internet-savvy hangout where coffee, conversation, and connectivity are all part of the same process.
Perhaps there is nothing suspicious about Think Coffee inconspicuously appearing across the street from the Courant Institute of Mathematics where physicists and mathematicians have been working on String Theory as it has evolved to M Theory with the discovery and validation of the 11th Dimension. Perhaps... and yet...
My own discovery of the place was through a colleague who was openly hostile to the thought of Starbucks. We were meeting for coffee and conversation. It was raining, and we were about to settle for Starbucks a half a block away, when she remarked that there was a new coffee shop "over there" and waved her arm in a south easterly direction. I followed her hand and surmised the street she meant. I remarked "I think you must be hallucinating because I know that street very well and there's nothing there but a Gristedes and a few closed storefronts. She insisted, "Well it's there. It's narrow in the front, but then opens into a huge space in the back."
So we struck out in the rain, and as we reached the corner of the next block and looked south, there was the simple, unassuming marquee proclaiming "Think Coffee." We made a run for it, using the marvelous trees in front of Courant as umbrellas (I am from Texas and she is from Colorado, so neither of us have any respect for carrying umbrellas---but that's another blog).
Inside, it was just as she described except that everywhere I looked I saw people sitting with their laptops and coffee, and others engaged in deep conversation. Suddenly I knew I was home. In fact, I am writing this blog from Think Coffee and enjoying my iced coffee at a table tucked away in the back. Tonight there is a free showing of a film and animation, so it looks like I've found the reason I was headed for New York City so many years ago...
Yet, I am somewhat certain that this Think Coffee is actually a portal to the eleventh dimension that the folks from Courant use as a front for their comings and goings as they journey through that fantastical new universe. You can see someone peering from behind a laptop, and then surreptitiously slip away for a while, disappearing unceremoniously, and returning later with a look of mysterious satisfaction. That is, of course, how they are coming up with such exciting visuals for those specials on the Science Channel.