CoffeeBeer >> Double Shot Buzz >> Porchlight

Back Buzz - 25 November, 2019

When I visited Seattle in September with my Bay Area friend Mistah Rick, we had started our Thursday with a rather disappointingly weak coffee. So after lunch in Capitol Hill we decided to go in search of a better coffee. Because it sounded like an interesting place, and because I was especially attracted to the name, I suggested we make our way to Porchlight Coffee and Records.

The cafe is surprisingly small and, as opposed to what we had been experiencing, completely devoid of any suggestion of pretentiousness. It’s a very basic, cool and casual place with friendly wooden tables and chairs and leather sofas, and the barista was equally friendly and cool. As we stood at the counter ordering my macchiato and Rick's cappuccino I admired their logo which appears on their cards and cups, featuring a pert little businessman from the 1940s or 1950s, with a coffee in one hand and a record in the other, and he appears to be whistling Porchlight’s own theme tune. It reminded me of the logo for my very first JC Mitchell business card, not to mention a logo I designed for the JC Max t-shirt company -- and before that, one of the fliers I designed for a Moderns gig in Los Angeles. Yes, this is my kind of image.

Rick and I sat at one of the little tables and discussed the origin of the naming of Rick’s drink. Apparently cappuccinos originated from a "gentle sect of Cappucin monks" -- or monkeys, as I prefer to imagine. Both of our drinks were presented with very nice rosettes. My macchiato was a nice afternoon refresher of a macchiato -- not the powerhouse one needs first thing in the morning, but a quite pleasant roast and blend for a lazy afternoon.

When I finished my coffee I wandered around the cafe, beckoned to the rear of the room by racks of independent new and used vinyl. Having been opened in 2009 by Seattle native Zack Bolotin, Porchlight Coffee and Records even imprints a few of their own releases, and they sell turntable slipmats as well as t-shirts and sweatshirts. The art on the walls is by local artists and changes regularly. The coffee used is from Herkimer in Seattle, and the cafe also serves sandwiches, bagels, vegan doughnuts, and pastries. And just like breweries, they sell bottles and growlers of their own cold-brew coffee. Apparently earlier this year Food & Wine Magazine elected Porchlight Coffee as the least snobby cafe on their list of favourite Seattle spots. And I’d definitely agree.

I was glad to find Porchlight a comfortable, relaxed, natural kind of place, specifically because I grew up with fond memories of porchlights. In suburban California every house had at least one porchlight, and the front porch was usually up a couple of steps from the walkway, turning the whole area around the front door into a homing beacon lighting up the dark night. If for some reason you were looking for a good supply of moths, the porchlights were prime territory, and at certain times of the summer the lights also seemed to attract mosquitos. Or perhaps it was just because there was enough light to see how many mosquitos there were.

I recall, on one hot summer night long ago, driving from Long Beach to a house in Montebello to buy a Vox Continental Organ and Essex Bass Amplifier I’d found in a classified ad. At the risk of being redundantly redundant, we approached the porchlight-lit porch where a young heavily tattooed man wearing shorts and one of those 1970s mesh vests was manically nuking the mosquitos swarming around the light by using his cigarette lighter to ignite the aerosol cloud he kept spraying out of a can of his girlfriend’s hairspray. We could see many innocent moths falling to their deaths as well. Fortunately, as we approached cautiously, he abruptly halted his entomological slaughter, announced himself as the seller, and took us inside. (I did get a great deal on the music equipment and soon formed a band, as one does.)

Speaking of making positive moves and getting things done reminds me of a recent Facebook posting session started by a friend who is moving house very soon:

How lazy am I? Been awake since 2:30am and still not painted the bookcase or done any more packing. Get some sleep. I'm at work!!!!! Forget the sleep - that's for wimps. Have you done all the spring cleaning yet? Mowed the lawn? Written your memoirs? Organised and catalogued all of your paperwork? Washed the car? Do you even have a car? You'll have to add "buy a car" to today's list then. Of course I did all those. Just didn't pack or paint. If you believe all those crappy articles about how your morning routine is the secret of success, waking up almost before you have gone to bed means you should be running a Silicon Valley tech giant by now! Missed that opportunity... It’s just laziness, Olly. Get your finger out and start making gazillions between 3am and 4.40am!