Friday, May 22, 2015

Station W

I should have asked.

I didn't, so I don't know how this cafe got its name.

I got there on a whim, on my way to the office.

Station W was the last of the five Montreal coffee spots singled out by the Tastet's. As soon as I read Elise's article I wrote the places she mentioned down on a piece of paper and stuck it under a magnet on my office white board. A caffein addict's hit list. I dropped in on the other four last fall. Two on foot, one on two wheels, the other with Susan on a snowy Sunday: Myriade, Le Couteau, Pikolo, and Café Plume.

I was going to be late, but I would have been late anyway. I can't remember why. Oh, right, the service guy came to kick start the heat pump and I needed to witness the deed. These days, as this leg of my career ebbs, the tension that once could get me to the office at six a.m. is slipping away. It's high time for a change. A monumental change.

Soon two years will have passed.

Bob, Karen, Steve, Paul and I shared a hearty breakfast in State College on a sunny summer morning. There was much camaraderie, animated discussion, shared experiences, much joie de vivre.

Just a few days ago Steve had a heart attack. He listened to his body and his wife, and made it to the ER. That's where it happened. He's fine now. Less than a year ago Bob left us in his sleep. What the heck?

Paul and I (separately) visited Italy last year. Each of us toured the Italian countryside on two wheels. What an experience, right Sonja? Remember the snake crossing the road Roland? We took chances. Not crazy chances, but chances all the same. That's the way to live. Bob took chances too, so does Steve, so does Karen. I am a much better person for it. I have all of them to thank, truly I do. Moto bloggers rock

If there's a lesson here, it's that life is best when it's really lived. Live your life on two wheels. I promise you won't regret it.

A fragment of that devil-may-care adventurous spirit took me to Station W, slightly off my commute's beaten track.
All winter long Station W taunted me from the white board. Spring is a long time to wait once the snow flies.

Station W is a nice place to stop for coffee. It has a bohemian feel that dovetails nicely with the evolving Wellington street vibe.
Tourists are few here.

It's easy to tell the gentry from the long-time residents. Thirty-something new moms pushing brand-new strollers in nice trendy clothing are clearly gentrifying old Verdun. The working class folks they share the sidewalks with are the people who live here because it has long been an affordable place to live in the city. Evidence of hard-scrabble lives isn't hard to find. The contrast between the haves, and the have-nots, is plain to see. Wellington street is one of the front lines in the gentrification phenomenon.

 There is social tension here. It's written in the graffiti.

 That said, Wellington is not one bit a mean street, and the neighborhood is not in the least seedy.
 It's clean, and it's honest. Quintessentially Montreal. Yet it is gentrifying at a good clip.

Station W's interior is new, and the decor is simple, evocative of home. There are built-in book shelves with books, pictures in frames, teapots, cups, mugs and nicknacks.
 It's a little contrived, but homey nonetheless.

The coffee is the clear standout, as it should be. My cappuccino takes a little longer than its Starbucks cousin, but the wait is justified. I feel that if I blink, I might re-open my eyes in Myriade, or Café Plume, or any of the other micro-roastery cafés that Elise recommended.

I must apologize for a complete inability to describe the flavour. And I'm at a loss to explain how the flavour is obtained. I think it must be the roasting. One thing is certain, the flavour is outstanding. It's rich, full-bodied, exotic. I imagine that the coffee roasted, brewed, and served right on the plantation must taste like this. Unlike any coffee you'll find in the chains, or in any home brew. That's what makes going out of your way so worthwhile.

I should point out that it's not for everyone. Susan is not a fan. At least not when we went to Café Plume.

If you live here, you have to try one of these places. If you're a tourist, try Myriade or Pikolo. You won't regret it.


Roland said...

David, yes I do remember the snake crossing the road (no 2 of my list of wild animals crossing the road right in front of Bella, no 1 is the black bear in Port Moody)!
Btw chances are increasing that we might meet this fall. Looks like the deadline for my project will be postponed and I might join Sonja for a week in Montreal. Coffee stops NOT optional!!!

Conchscooter said...

Station : Lieu où l'on s'arrête sur notre chemin pour un court ou moyen arrêt, où l'on prend une pause.

W : Pour Wellington bien sûr! ;)

Bien sûr. Vivez le risque!

Trobairitz said...

If aging has taught us anything it is that life is not infinite.

Life is fleeting, so it is best to be late for work and find that out of the way coffee shop. I am glad you did.

RichardM said...

I like the commentary and the pictures. I am retiring for just those reasons. No longer do I feel driven to my job. It used to be interesting and challenging. Now there are other things I want to do.

SonjaM said...

David, your thoughts are all going into the right direction, now, are you ready to take in to the next level? Bob is a reminder that life's short, time to stop and smell the roses. Go, ride, live!
And have a good cuppa while doing it. I'd like to take you out for coffee in one or any of the places you mentioned. I am sure they'll have soy milk options, too (for me).

David Masse said...

Good news!! you have a home to stay in here.

Susan and I are traveling in mid to late August, and we may go to Hawaii.

No fears, if we aren't here when you two come, you still have a place to stay and Sonja will have access to Black Betty. Plus bonus, if we aren't here, you get use of both bikes. It will almost be like home.

David Masse said...

Ah bien, je vois mon cher que tes capacités cognitives dépassent largement les miennes.

Je n'ai aucun doute que tu es dans le mille avec cette observation très savante.


David Masse said...

Birds of a feather Brandy, birds of a feather.

David Masse said...

That is precisely where I am Richard. The realization that retirement is more imminent than I thought is liberating rather than frightening.

I don't know precisely when, but September 30 seems the outside date.

David Masse said...

As a matter of fact they do!

Sonja, when you come you will have a great time, I promise.

Steve Williams said...

Brushes with the infinite, in the ER or on the road, have a way of clarifying what's important. Or at least raising the question. When Bob died I kept wondering how it could have happened. I know now that if I had tried to ignore what was happening and just consider things another illness to endure that I could have easily reached a point of no return in my sleep.

Somehow those thoughts don't easily fade, at least right now. They fuel ideas of other futures and options. I agree with your thoughts David of how thinking about imminent retirement is liberating. Dom Chang counseled hard on that path.

So what's next? Hard to say. But as my coffee shop choices have diminished I actually beginning to think it may be time to try coffee. Maybe.

David Masse said...

Steve, retirement for me means the freedom to choose how I will spend my life, what I will do, without having those decisions tied to earning money.

This is perhaps the biggest transition in my life (our lives) to date. The closer I come, the better I feel about it.

Coop a.k.a. Coopdway said...

David, a very fine Post and encouragement to set my standards higher since I'll drink anything brown and hot.

Thanks for this one.

David Masse said...

Doug, Susan and I own more coffee-making machines than a reasonable human being should, from a Nespresso machine, to a Grind-n-Brew Cuisinart drip machine, to a French press, and a jar of intant and a camp stove, just in case there's a power failure. I guess you're a fellow addict.

The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.