Coffee: it’s not just for breakfast anymore! The coffee craze has been in and out of vogue throughout history. It’s a cultural phenomenon with its own rituals and plenty of noteworthy references –from the coffee klatch to the coffee break and even some great songs like, “Black Coffee” made famous by singers like Sarah Vaughan & Ella Fitzgerald.
I remember TV commercials for Sanka –which is all my aunt Sarah ever drank (bringing her own Sweet & Low packets she’s absconded from the local Howard Johnson’s) at all my mother’s Tupperware parties. And I remember the old adage, “fill it to the rim, with Brim” after the dangers of caffeine hit the presses. But we’ve come a long way since Chock Full O’ Nuts and Ricardo Montalban. If it was the 80’s that set us up for the serve, then the 90’s were the grand slam of Arabica proportions!
Just before the turn of the century into the new millennium, Starbucks would set up shop on virtually every street corner in NYC (there were 3 of them in Cooper Square) and in every shopping mall from coast to coast. Eventually even McDonalds would attempt to get their market share. But there’s more to coffee than big business; there’s an underlying subculture surrounding this bean juice that endures even to this day. You can feel the vibe at hipster coffee joints like Café Volan in Asbury Park, but the real deal can be found in Long Branch at the Inkwell Coffee House –one of the few coffee houses to remain intact and true to form. The Inkwell does, as one might assume, serve a wide variety of specialty coffees and teas, including their signature (and decadent) Dutch Coffee, brewed with butter, cream and sugar then topped with whipped cream. But just as important as their fair trade wares is the fact that they provide weekly live entertainment and open mic nights –which is what makes a coffee house a “coffeehouse” to begin with.
The Inkwell as been around since the 70’s, when coffee houses were all the rage amongst teens and beatniks who would read their poetry & sing folk tunes to kindred spirits in the night. That’s another important aspect of a true coffee house –they don’t cater to commuters and Wall Street crime lords. It’s not the 5 am – 2 pm crowd they’re targeting. Inkwell wakes from its slumber and opens its doors around 6 or 7 in the evening most days and stays open until around 2 or 3 am! Here you’ll find university students, night owls, artists, poets, and musicians –savoring inexpensive snacks and enjoying delicious refreshments while enjoying local talent. It’s as relevant to the Monmouth County music scene’s cultural heritage just as much as the Count Basie Theatre & Stone Pony would be considered. If you haven’t checked it out –there are plenty of cold winter nights left to go grab a mug of Dutch Coffee heaven! The Inkwell is located at 665 2nd Ave in Long Branch. Winter hours are as follows: Mondays through Fridays from 7 pm until 3 am, Saturdays from 6:30 pm – 4 am, and Sundays from 6:30 pm – 2:30 am.
K.D. Lang perfoms Black Coffee.
Also – check out some of the links in the first paragraph especially – some great campy vintage stuff in there!
Monmouth Arts Music Blogger