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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Literary Cafés

Donigan Merritt writes about some of the cafés he has used to write, and one in particular which gave him the right kind of space and coffee to exercise his craft:

From February, 2003 until August, 2006, we lived in Berlin. I found my favorite café there, but not without a number of months trying to find the right one. I tried out the Café Bliebtreau and it worked all right until the owner, who was always present, figured out I was an American and I was instantly persona non grata. (These were not good times to be an American in Germany, to be an American anywhere, really.) Then I found a great student place across the street from the Berlin Technical University, Café Hardenberg. It could have become my place, except the food was mediocre and, unacceptably, the coffee was weak. One day, bending against a cold wind surging through the tunnel-like lane called Savignyplatz, I popped into Café Aedes for something hot and bracing: a caffé corretto (espresso corrected with grappa). It was perfect, the best, most honestly Italian coffee I had found in Berlin. So I kept going back for the coffee, then discovered the affordable and delicious tramezzinis, and began to notice that all the staff spoke Italian with each other, noticed that most of the other customers were regulars and frequently sat for long periods of time with a book, a magazine, a notebook. I sensed a fit.

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