The Coffee Gallery on North Lake Avenue is as much a part of the Altadena community as is Altadena Hardware or Webster's. Every morning the locals hold round table discussions at (where else?) the round table in front, where local, national and international issues of the day are settled over coffee, pastries and a decent egg and spinach croissant. There's a conference room you can reserve for your writers group and a back room for musical performances or stand-up comics. Everything you need to know about Altadena is pinned on the community bulletin board, and everyone you want to know, or just about, will stop through at some point during the day.
I'm quite familiar with the Coffee Gallery. When John and I first moved to Altadena we thought it was called "Awake and Open" because of the sign that hung above the sidewalk, alerting us to caffeine. We liked the coffee and the laid back atmosphere. It was a good place to hang.
The photo above is of barista Fly in a rare moment of peace after last Friday's monumental morning rush. That day the local chapter of the Independent Writers of Southern California met at the Coffee Gallery, in addition to the usual regulars, and the cook didn't show up. Fly was on his own. He handled it with grace and even humor. Mid-morning was much quieter.
I like the food, when I can get it. At any another place if the cook hadn't shown up, the manager would have been in the kitchen cooking, making sure the customers were fed. At the Coffee Gallery, well, we all had to make do with bagels and muffins. And to give you an idea of the vibe of the place, we were fine with that.
I stayed after the meeting and sat with my laptop near the front to enjoy an extra cup of coffee. The huge picture window views Lake Avenue and lets in a lot of light. I got some work done, but I was too hungry to stay long. Still, I'll go back. For me, the key with the Coffee Gallery is to go at a time when it's not crowded (and when I'm not hungry). It's a great little place with free wifi, and guess what: no music! They don't play any music! Eureka!!!
The Coffee Gallery marches to its own drummer. After all, its website url is funkylittlecoffeehouse.com. But as long as those drums are silent, hey - I'm there.