Last fall I went on a two week trip to Dublin, Liverpool and Edinburgh with a friend. We intentionally took solo days in each city to explore new places in our own way. And on one of those days I discovered Chapter One Coffee Shop in Edinburgh.1
On previous trips I’ve always tried to do and see everything. I would push myself to stay out all day and night, then wonder why I was exhausted from my vacation when I got home. These days of quiet exploration were a great conscious exercise in avoiding that tendency.
On this particular day, I was still a little groggy from the preceding night of scotch and ale. A meager breakfast and instant coffee were available in our hostel, but I was in need of some quality caffeine. After a little bit of research I decided to walk into Haymarket to the nearest coffee shop that served hot breakfast.
Chapter One Coffee Shop is a brightly decorated cafe that sits inside a curve in Dalry Road. It has wide windows that let in plenty of sunlight, which bounces invitingly off of the eggshell walls. There were a couple of other patrons at tables reading and sipping drinks when I arrived.
I (fittingly) ordered an americano and a sausage roll. After ten days of instant coffee it was amazing to have espresso. And the sausage roll was flaky and fresh, the exact opposite of the stale cereal in our hostel.
The best part, by far, of Chapter One is the quiet ambiance. The couple of hours I spent there were the quietest and calmest I’d been in a long time. I wrote a little, read a lot2 and even wrote a few personal emails to old friends.
The barista occasionally stopped by my table and asked if I needed another americano, which of course, I did.
Striding out of the shop thoroughly caffeinated I spent the rest of the day exploring the streets and museums of Edinburgh. However, when I look at photos from the day my favorite is the simple iPhone snapshot of my coffee.
It isn’t a fancy coffee. There’s no art in the foam or anything. It was just a simple pleasure in the middle of an exciting adventure. It carries a warmth and a quietness with it that I want to experience more of in every day.
1 I have since learned that Chapter One Coffee Shop has a second location in Guayaquil, which does significantly increase my interest in a vacation to Ecuador.
2 On this trip I read The Beatles: All These Years, Volume 1 by Mark Lewisohn. It is the best and most thorough biography of the group I’ve ever read. That’s saying a lot since I’ve read close to a dozen, and it is only the first in a three volume collection.