On Wednesday, January 28, liberals and the coffee curious alike trudged through the snow to Blue State Coffee’s opening day.
It’s only been a couple days since Blue State opened its doors across from Silliman on Wall Street where Ciao Bella used to be, but I’ve been there for a total of about twenty hours since then. All I have to say is: Thank God for Blue State Coffee.
I walked up the stairs and sauntered past boards chalked up with the day’s brew options and a brightly lit display case half-full of pastries and bottled drinks. Standard coffee-shop fare. What makes Blue State different, however, is its openness. Its neutral light-chestnut colored walls, granite countertops, light floors, and embedded ceiling bulbs give it a homey feel. A model homey feel. This sense of comfort and luxury is emphasized by large, accommodating, incredibly plush leather reading chairs by the French windows.
Blue State’s spaciousness makes it a better study spot than than The Publick Cup, Starbucks, Koffee on Audobon, Willoughby’s, and Thain Café. The house is divided roughly into three sections. I liken it to the way Bass Library has different levels of intensity: there’s the café where you’re lightly reading, but mostly eating that muffin or talking to a friend, the upper level where you write that reading response, and the basement, where fun and papers go to die. Blue State seems to have the same dynamic, spread horizontally. What makes it better than Bass is soft rather than fluorescent lighting, cell-phone reception, and the fact that you don’t feel like you’re entering a dungeon. And, 5% of proceeds go to the cause of the customer’s choice. Each quarter, Blue State offers its customers the opportunity to vote for which local initiative they would like to support. You buy, you vote, you donate, you drink/eat, you are happy=Blue State is great.
The first Blue State Coffee opened in Providence in 2007. Drew Ruben (SY ‘11) and his father came up with the concept of a liberal-minded coffee shop after the disappointment of the 2004 elections. They started in 2006 as a website, and after iffy sales, they decided to shift from cyber to real space. Best decision ever (at least I think so). Their coffee beans come from all over the world (they’ve got an Obama blend!), while their teas come in biodegradable packages from a certified organic company called Two Leaves and a Bud. The delicious pastries hail from La Cuisine in Branford, Connecticut and the friendly baristas? Well, that’s all local.
One small kink, which I think is just part of starting up and getting settled, is that a slice of bread (granted, it was a thick slice) cost me $3.00 while scones and cookies are roughly $2.00 and change. When asked, Drew graciously considered it and, I assume, set about reassessing the bread’s serving size. They’re a great family joint, and the fact that the Rubens frequent Blue State a lot really makes it feel welcome. Liberal or not, stop into Blue State Coffee for the great space, the comfy chairs, the natural lighting, the terrific cupcakes and deliciously flaky scones, and of course, for caffeine.
Things definitely worth trying: cupcakes, scones, bread (make sure you get it toasted, with jam, and in the right serving), excellent Earl Grey and Chai teas, sandwiches.