Three Coffee Shops You Need to Visit When You're in Scranton, PA
When I was an admission counselor this past fall, I lived out of suitcases for weeks on end. Amidst shuttling myself around to college fairs and high schools, keeping up with emails, and logging dozens of phone calls, I often had time to explore the towns and cities around me. The best way to accomplish this was by eating out every day and every night, curtesy of my company credit card.
Scranton, Pennsylvania happened to be the middle of my territory, so I found myself there often--sometimes on purpose, sometimes by accident. Having spent an accumulative amount of seven days there, it was the most-visited destination of my admission counselor career.
A quick google search tells me that this place actually shut down a few months ago . . . but that's just what happens when I go places--they get SHUT DOWN. Anyway, I decided it's still worth mentioning, since I had a lovely time there. Plus, what's a list with just two items, right?
Cafe Sevda wasn't your typical American coffee shop. I knew the instant I walked in and studied the tapestries on the walls. On my left were low, window seats stretching corner to corner, their zig-zag patterns matching the red-gold light fixtures hanging from the ceiling. On the wall perpendicular to the window seats was a leather black couch, which was where I chose to park my purse and computer bag after ordering a croissant and black coffee for lunch.
The baristas couldn't have been more friendly. As a woman passed over my receipt and told me she'd bring over my lunch in a few minutes, I tried to determine where they were from. I thought it might be Poland or Russia, but I've since learned they were from Turkey. Something else--probably in the way they acted around each other with ease and familiarity--told me they were related. A mother and a son, perhaps.
As promised, the woman brought my food over a few minutes later, then walked back across the white-tiled floors to her spot behind the counter. I flipped open my laptop and flicked through a college application one of my students had recently submitted. My eyes skimmed over the biographical information before landing on her hometown, written in simple, arial font: Scranton, PA.
Huh. I punched the address into Google maps just out of curiosity. She lived less than ten minutes from there. I wonder if she's been here. I wonder if she's here right now.
Over by the window seats, I spotted three women--one middle-aged, and the other two high school-aged. That could be her right there. Unfortunately, neither of the girls matched the description in my imagination. Stephanie, my student, was supposed to have an unruly mass of curly hair, thick, sculpted eyebrows, and brown eyes the color of walnut wood. Nope, that's definitely not her.
Northern Light Espresso Bar and Cafe
This is a place I would describe as cozy. Between the warm yellow walls, the black ceiling lit with multi-colored lights, and the plush furniture that coddled me like a newborn, I felt instantly at home. Perhaps it was the hour--ten or eleven in the morning--but it was quite busy. In the one or two hours I chipped away at my inbox, I watched several colleagues come and go in groups of two. These were business meetings. Start-up brainstorming sessions. One-on-one check-ups about how things were going at the office, and how are co-workers treating you, and how are you, individually, contributing to the company? I could tell by the way they gripped their coffee cups--to-go cups, not mugs--and picked at the cardboard sleeves that these people were acquaintances, not friends. I spotted the occasion college student, too, sitting with her ankles crossed in her chair and slouching over a laptop.
It's evident Northern Light draws the crowd of thinkers, dreamers, leaders, and innovators. Even Bill Clinton's visited the place. You can smell his presence in the air right when you walk in.
The first time I stepped foot in Adezzo, Peter Gabriel's "Shock the Monkey" was playing. The barista--a tall, broad-shouldered man in his mid-twenties--was bantering with another barista who had just started a shift, or perhaps just finished it. For a moment he invited me into their playful exchange, grinning at me after poking fun at his co-worker.
I've returned to Adezzo several times since then. It checks all the boxes off my "coffee house vibes" checklist. Brick walls? Check. A comfy couch? Check. Mismatched or unconventionally repurposed future? Check. Greenery? Check. Moody lighting mixed with glowy white lights? There's no missing that ADEZZO sign. Eclectic music? Check check check.
I also admire that Adezzo is distinctly Scranton. It exudes hometown pride, displaying fliers of local events on its walls. I grabbed one when I was there in March that advertised for the tattoo convention coming up in early April. I didn't go, of course, but the artwork--a black and white graphic of a girl half-tatted, half-skeleton--would make for an offbeat piece of decor in my apartment. Tucking it into my computer bag on the way out made me feel like a true local.
Maybe one day I will be. This inexplicable feeling builds in my chest whenever I see signs for Scranton, especially when I'm driving there in the middle of the night after a long day of driving, fairs, packing up suitcases and college literature, and even more driving. All roads point back to Scranton has been the mantra for this place that's somehow felt familiar since the beginning.
I recognize those faces behind the counter, now that I've been five or six times. On a couple of visits, the barista with the braided blonde hair calls me "honey" as she spreads veggie cream cheese over my bagel and hands over my green tea latte. On another visit, I study the far-off look in the eyes of the tall, broad-shouldered man in his mid-twenties from my table as he leans over the counter. He's no doubt wondering how long it will be until he's out of here, while I'm contemplating what excuse I can make to stay longer.
But whether I leave now or in an hour, it doesn't matter. Because all roads point back to Scranton.