CoffeeBeer >> Double Shot Buzz >> Gaard


A few months ago, as I was walking to work, I passed a small, mysterious sandwich board perched on a quiet corner where West Street crosses Cavendish Street. The yellow sign said, very simply, “GAARD →”. Was this some sort of general Flemish warning? Or perhaps directions to a new training facility for military officers? Because the feline side of me always insists on following my curiosity, I had to follow the arrow.

And what I found was that the former coffee shop in the West One plaza, Ink + Water, was no longer there, and in its place was a new coffee shop called Gaard Coffee Hide. As I was late to work, I didn’t stop to investigate. But I knew I would return one day, not only to try their coffee but to solve the even greater mystery of the name.

So on one of my weekdays off, after having walked into town to pick up my new glasses from the optician, I decided to stop in on the way back for a coffee. Besides coffee drinks and the usual cakes and pastries, Gaard also offers vegan and vegetarian wraps, sandwiches, and breakfasts. There are a handful of tables outside on the plaza; but as it was a bit windy out, I opted for one of the tiny tables inside. The only other customers besides myself were two female students, one to each side of me, who were both quietly studying. The "Chillmuzak", as I would call it, that trickled from the speakers was mildly irritating to my ears, like a nearly insignificant gnat walking across my arm. (I shouldn’t say “insignificant”, as in a gnat’s world, this particular gnat may have been very significant, and it may even be an extremely important and powerful gnat who is about to change the gnat world.)

My macchiato was served properly, and I do appreciate that: in an appropriately sized and shaped macchiato cup with demitasse spoon, and accompanied by a glass of water, which is always nice. The problem was that my macchiato was just, well, a bit weak, and therefore not very inspiring for words.

As far as the name of the cafe is concerned, the word Gaard, meaning garden or yard, is from Middle or Old Dutch. And a hide is a camouflaged shelter used to observe wildlife. So I’m assuming that “Gaard Coffee Hide” means a camouflage garden where one can observe wild coffee beans.

I have to admit that the thing I like best about Gaard is the three now-vintage typewriters which hang sideways on the wall, and a fourth one that sits upright on a tall hanging shelf. I like that. I think there might also be a balcony or something up the side stairs by the door, but there is no indication or sign posted that it could be a public space. But while I was there, two people suddenly emerged from those stairs to place orders, as if they'd entered the cafe from a second story, or else perhaps they landed on the roof in a private helicopter or spaceship.

As I finished my coffee I felt a bit confused, as if I were asleep and dreaming. The weak macchiato didn’t exactly help to reverse the soporific effect of the gnatmusic. So in support of the world of gnats, I stepped outside in the fresh air, where the wasps and bees were busy buzzing. And as I continued on my journey home, I thought of gnats, typewriters, and wild coffee beans.

Speaking of such wonders of the world reminds me of an email conversation from earlier this year with my Bay Area friend, discussing various types of elasticity:

Every day I walk into work, my backpack containing a book, my lunch, and usually a half-full plastic bottle of water to drink with my lunch which I eat just before arriving at work at noon. The 2.5-mile walk to work, according to a topographical map I consulted of the city, is a gradual descent of approximately 496 feet. My gradual descent with the bottle produces no notable effect.

When I have returned home from work, which involves an ascent of 496 feet, my water bottle, which can be anywhere from nearly full to empty, has caved in from compression, just like one finds their water bottle after having landed from a flight. And this happens every single workday, no matter how much is in the bottle.

(I'd like to point out that, as opposed to landing from 30,000 feet in a jet moving 200mph, I am moving 2.5 miles at, say, 4.5mph.)

As I experience no symptoms of having made a quick descent, such as my ears plugging up or popping, I am completely mystified by this. Any ideas? As an experiment, one should try to evaluate the effect produced as the temperature of air inside the bottle drops during your walk, reducing the internal pressure. If you leave the compressed bottle closed when you get home and let it return to room temperature, does it return to normal shape? If you put a half full bottle in the refrigerator (or outside your door, without letting it freeze overnight), does it cave in? An interesting idea. But this also happens when Andrew drives into town to pick me up after work, which happens most of the time. So I walk outside for about a minute and climb into the heated car, and the drive normally takes 10 minutes.

I think we might need my old cubicle-sized whiteboard from our programming days for this research project... I think you're right: it's time to go back to the lab. I happen to have two rubber band balls of different mass ready to deploy if necessary. Hmm. How about this one, then? I could take two bottles with wide necks into work with me, and before I leave I would make sure each one is exactly half-full of water. Then I would sink a rubber band ball into each one, cap them securely and place in my backpack, and walk the 2.5 miles home, gradually ascending 496 feet. How would each bottle react when I arrived home?

And if I were to decant the balls at that point, would their relative bounces change?