Editor’s note:This meditation on a visit to The Laughing Goat Coffeehouse at 1709 Pearl Street, just east of the Pearl Street Mall, continues BLDRfly’s a series on locally-owned coffee shops. The posts aim to reflect each shop’s specific vibe.
I’ve never thought of goats as giggling creatures, but perhaps Kaldi did as he tended to his herd of dancing goats after they found the coffee cherry. Desert fiction, that’s where I go when I see goats and coffee branded together.
At The Laughing Goat Coffeehouse, when I need lifting there’s a pleasant mingling among patrons. Steam hisses, people plug into the hive, flick through Instagram, send peer-reviewed emails, and comment hearts under their friends’ necks.
At night, on a rare stroll, it’s a narrow shot back to a small concert. My countrymen sip drinks under the manipulation of a musician at the devil’s disposal. The music plays. A guy dances, bumping into cocked skulls, jiving elastic and free, all too merry as a girl whiffs his hygiene and grimaces, his smile big as the moon while the tambourine man shakes his mane.
Every sip warms, and in a few minutes, we’re all singing fuck you to the singer’s ex. The hippy lets his hairs down. The baristas go mechanical. And the audience contemplates how their teeth are all showing at once. Laughing gas? Caffeine? Bluegrass Folk? A rendezvous under the moon? No loon, businessman, or tarantula could have been out of place. We were in an ecosystem. The economy of love was booming.
Inside The Laughing Goat. Photo: Edward Simpson.
Of another day in the goat’s mouth, middle of winter, my time to sit around is reserved for the holiday season and I’ve befriended the snowfall. A redhead stands behind the counter. She asks what I want but I’ve lost interest in the future. We resolve on a double shot of espresso. I order to-go.
I want to bang out my stress through my knuckles at Easton. I still smell like Teriyaki sauce, and I’m still grinding for a restaurant I don’t care for. It’s impossible to be merry. The cold steals the fire from my clavicle, and I tell the girl she’s appreciated.
I don’t need room for cream, but we can make it weird. Throw a dash of coconut syrup into the black hole. Quit your restaurant job. Turn snowflake until the new year. It’s fine being new and lonesome with the dog at home. Wishes gently float to the ground and turn to mud days later, but before they are really quite luminescent.
For a new town, a new coffee scene, a new lifestyle and geographic oyster of opportunity, everything feels nostalgic. I remember old love — wooden reindeer and Santa’s cowboy posture — riddles in different rooms and the search for an ornamental mouse — the whole spectrum of how I wound up in this patriotic nook.
Everyone looks frigid, pausing around small tables for a few exchanges of words on the way to some ultimate goal — legacy, love, a good fire. Someone is burying the homeless under blankets and sweeping the streets.
I keep my money in a card, think of my family’s desires, and wonder the pace Santa must chew cookies on Christmas Eve. In the hullabaloo of magic bags and breaking in, coffee must make more sense than a glass of milk ever did.