Perhaps you remember this series of television commercials from the 1970s with the line: “My broker is E.F. Hutton.
For today, here is a different spin on that old ad copy: My barista is Miss Jackie at Elly’s Tea & Coffee. I thought about this after reading a blog post, Is Your Barista Flirting With You, that a friend posted Thursday on Facebook.
You see her almost every day.
She’s young and pretty in an artsy way- not like how your favorite waitress at Islands is pretty in a wholesome way. Maybe she has a cool tattoo you see when her hair is thrown up in a messy bun as she toils over your drink. Maybe she has piercings that spiral up her ear like a silver snake.
Maybe she asks you how your day’s going. Or how the weekend went. Or she smiles a little too long while she rings up all your ridiculous drink modifiers at $.80 a piece.
Is she flirting with you?
The blog goes on to quickly deflate the fantasy — a foolishness they neither encourage nor have time for at Elly’s. But once you get to know the proprietor, Elly Lloyd, and her sister, Jackie Scroggins, and everyone else at downtown Muscatine’s only coffee shop, you get something much better: Friendship. The coffee’s pretty good, too. And the pastries and other baked goods are even better.
But let’s get back to the idea of friendship vs. fantasy.
Anyone who knows Miss Jackie knows she has burdens and challenges of her own. They are none of your business if you don’t know her, so I won’t go into details here. I will say my barista greeted me a few days ago with a hug and a free cup of coffee because she thought I needed a pick-me-up.
But that’s standard operating procedure at Elly’s. On a regular customer’s birthday, Jackie and Elly lead an incredible rendition of “Happy Birthday,” complete with choreography. (In fact, their entire family is musical. Check out this cover of Lay Me Down that was recently recorded by Elly’s grandchildren, Tyler and Brittni, who is only 15.)
Back when I really started this blog three years ago during my summer of unemployment, I never paid for a cup of coffee. Elly and some of her other regulars wouldn’t let me. To this day, Elly lets me run a tab and I pay for my morning cup of coffee once or twice a month.
It’s that kind of place. And I’ll take Elly’s over anywhere else regardless of how many baristas the other places employ who are young and artsy-pretty hippie girls with tattoos and piercings.