Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Cup 105: Cafe on the Corner


Cafe on the Corner
Originally uploaded by matt_leclair.
Where: Café on the Corner, Dover, New Hampshire
When: March 8, 2005
Who: Jessica Brakeley
Coffee: Port City Rocket Fuel
Mood: Happy

Here's a rundown of the Portsmouth area towns and their nicknames:
Somersworth = Scummersworth
Rochester = Raunchester
Dover = Dirty Dover
Portsmouth = Pretentious Portsmouth

The other town either don't rate nicknames, or I don't know them. Scummersworth and Raunchester, but I've lived and worked in Dirty Dover and Pretentious Portsmouth, and I have to say, Dover's alleged dirtiness has been its salvation. Portsmouth looks pretty, but it has become unlivable. The people who run that city should be shot as traitors. They've betrayed the people who lived there in service to the landlords and business owners. Portsmouth was a great city once, but in recent years all efort has gone into atracting more business and tourism with no concern for the people who lived there. Now it is a bedroom community for Boston. The families who lived there have moved to towns like Kittery and Elliot, while the younger people have moved to Dover. Dover may be "dirty" to Portsmouth's clean, but it is the clean of a hooker who's done herself up to attract johns. Beneath the pretty surface is disease, addiction and despair. I'm so glad I don't live in Portsmouth anymore!

Dover, on the other hand, seems to be trying hard not to become Portsmouth. There are concerts in the park that actually seem to be for the people who live in Dover, instead of the same musical every night all summer long that Portsmouth puts on to entertain the tourists. There are affordable restaurants and pleasant people. And there is the Café on the Corner, where people gather for good coffee and pleasant coversation. Sure, there may be places like that in Portsmouth, but in Dover there is a pleasant lack of people who are out to be seen, who are more concerned with how they are dressed and who is looking at them than with actually enjoying life.

The Café on the Corner is a microsm of Dover. It is a big place, but not so big that it feels cold. Windows wrap around the whole place so you can see the entire corner it takes its name from. It isn't that pretty a view, but the openness is nice. And you can see Baldface Books acrosss the street on the other corner. Used bookstore fans, Dover is worth a special trip just for Baldface books! There are rooms and rooms of books. If I hadn't already gone broke on the bookstores in Portland, I would have done it here! They also have CDs and a great vinyl selection, too. So you can pick up something good to read, then go hang in the big, comfy chairs at the Café.

The coffee at the Café made me happy. Of these past hundred-odd cups the coffee here was the best. The coffee was Rocket Fuel, from Port City Coffee Roasters out of Portsmouth (Port City, The Friendly Toast, and Jumpgate, a scifi/game/comic book store are Portsmouth's three redeeming qualities). Port City, as I've said before, is the best coffee roaster I know of within a day's drive. It was a rich blend, deep and authoritative without being agressive, like a kettle drum in an orchestra.

Suprisingly, the coffee here is better than at Port City's own café. Maybe it is the Dover water, or maybe their equipment is better, or maybe it is just the atmosphere. The café is very welcoming. You don't have to be trendy or beautiful (or a young urban professional) to set foot in there. While we were there, a woman hung out with her two kids. In the window seat a grandmother chatted with her granddaughter. College kids lounged in the overstuffed chairs and did their homework. It was a variety of people you just don't see at the cafés in Portsmouth or Portland, for that matter. It was a good place to end our vacation with, and a perfect cup of coffee for the last cup in this blog.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Cafe on the Corner actually does not use Port City Coffee anymore. It is a company called Kaffe Magnum Opus, or something along those lines. They have not used Port City coffee for atleast two years and have just neglected to take the Port City decal off the window. If you go there again and look at the labels on the airpots you can see the name of the coffee brand for yourself.

Anonymous said...

Cafe on the Corner actually does not use Port City Coffee anymore. It is a company called Kaffe Magnum Opus, or something along those lines. They have not used Port City coffee for atleast two years and have just neglected to take the Port City decal off the window. If you go there again and look at the labels on the airpots you can see the name of the coffee brand for yourself.

matt leclair said...

Maybe they've changed back because I didn't even notice that it said Port City on the door. The label was on the airpot. I always check the airpot! Of course, that doesn't necessarily make it Port City, and maybe the power of suggestion made me think it was a good cup of coffee, but really, that point is moot, the point being that Cafe on the Corner (and the bookstore on the opposite corner) are two of the best things Dover has going for it!

J said...

I just went there today and saw the labels said White Mountain Coffee. It was average. They have a lot of sweet-flavoured coffees now, including blueberry. Now I like blueberries a lot, but I don't want them in my coffee.

matt leclair said...

Flavored coffees are an abomination! I'm so sad the place has gone downhill. I heard rumors that some town counselor wanted to put a $tarbux there, and that'd be a shame.

J said...

A Starbucks would be tragic. I just moved to the Seacoast from NYC, where there were 6 Starbucks within a 3 block walk of my apartment. I tried to go a few times but just can't stand their coffee and the "food" they serve is inedible. Fortunately, there's a small place in Rollinsford called the Black Bean Cafe that has good coffee, homemade food, and friendly people. I highly recommend it if you're ever down this way.

Tim said...

A new coffee shop just opened next to Dos Amigos and city hall. Adelle's Coffee House is small and much better than Cafe on the Corner. It is owned by a group of four locals (who you will meet when you place an order) and the coffee is great. Every coffee lover should be spending their time in Dover there.

matt leclair said...

I haven't been there yet, but Adelle's is run by friends of friends, and I'm planning on heading over there next time I'm down in Dover. I hear great things!

matt leclair said...

...and I have to admit, the last stop into Café on the Corner was a bit of a let down. It seemed to be staffed by indifferent teenagers instead of anyone who had a passion for coffee, and the coffee itself wasn't anything special. It's still a great place to hang out because they've got plenty of tables and they're right across the block from a great used bookstore. Still, in this economy, coffee shops are really going to have to provide providing great service, great coffee, and great atmosphere if they want to survive. Café on the Corner has the atmosphere. I hope it gets the other two back!

jacob said...

Adelle's is very good. Cafe on the Corner is seriously ridiculous. Overall, I think the house coffee at the Silver Moon Creperie (nearby) is excellent and the best deal in Dover for a buck.