Sitting here, looking out my window at Galway bay (and the misery of raging wind and rain), writing, drinking a beautiful cup of coffee, and every-time I drink coffee these days, a slight sadness slaps me, with a longing for Caffe Trieste on Vallejo street in North Beach, San-Francisco, and as I am trying to get this site up and running, get a few posts going, I’ll will weep and sigh about this place today.
Yes, my heart is still there, well a piece of it anyway, which I do believe, I have left pieces of my heart in many places, Glebe in Sydney, Treats bar in Hoi-An, Vietnam, on a beach in Nice, France, North shore Vancouver, I could go on, and I’m sure we are all the same, have places where we would love to magically appear to now and again, but, In all my travels, San-Francisco is my favourite city, and yes I hope to live there some day, Could marriage be my golden ticket, hmmm.
Now, I have spent so much time in this city, 3 months here, a month there etc. and every-time I leave I feel like crying, yes, a growing man weeping like a little girl. And one of the main reasons is, Caffe Trieste and the whole of North Beach. Ah! what a place. Every-time I spend time in North Beach I write buckets of poetry, prose, and short stories. The city smacks inspiration in to my fragile little brain, I’m a walking sponge soaked in this cities historic beating heart. And I love it.
And my love for Caffe Trieste goes way beyond craziness. I don’t know how many people know this coffee place, I’ll give you a little history on it, well, what I know anyway.
This establishment was set up back in the 50’s by an Italian immigrant family, and it is based on the coffee shops of Trieste in Italy. It was Giovanni Giotta, who by the nickname “Papa Gianni” introduced the espresso to the west coast, as well as the cappuccino, building a growing reputation, first amongst the Italian community, and it wasn’t long before the general public all over came to drink coffee here and listen to the music.
The coffee shop is steeped in history, especially in music. There is the longest running show in the city called The Caffe Trieste Saturday Concert which in the early days started of as a family experience every Saturday, growing and blending in with the local musical talent, and still has shows today, and such a great day just to be sitting there relaxing.
There is also and old jukebox, with Italian folk music and opera if you fancy sticking something on when you are sitting, sipping, looking out the window. The establishment also owns a recording studio, and, their own record label, brilliant.
The great thing though, is the history, the thoughts of the great writers, poets, artists, musicians, who have spent time here, and still do, creating and producing pieces, inspired by the setting, the ambiance. Sure, this was the main hangout in the 50’s-60’s for all the beats, and most of my favourite writers like Kerouac etc. Could you imagine what it was like during that period, if only. It is also legend, that Francis Ford Coppola wrote his masterpiece screenplay, The Godfather right here in this Cafe, sweet.
Today I want to be Dorothy, be able to click my heals together, and end up in North Beach, but I’ll just have to wait now ’till my next trip. I recommend a visit if in the vicinity, to pop in for a coffee. Now don’t get me wrong. This is not a fancy plastic coffee hut like other establishments, one who shall remain nameless. Some times the tables aren’t cleaned, the lads behind the counter aren’t the type to give you that false plastic “Hi, how are you today” service and always seem to be looking a little to serious, which suits myself fine, and at times the clientele can be anyone from bums to hippies, and this is the whole reason why I love it.
To me, it’s a proper cafe, very local, if there is anything going on in north beach, poetry nights, plays, music, Art exhibitions etc. you can guarantee they drink in Caffe Trieste. I love sitting outside, I’ll always have an Africano, it’s so good, and strong, sometimes drives me a little loopy as coffee always seems to do, and I’ll have a delicious pastry, or a sandwich. The pizza slice is also tasty.
But its the atmosphere that always drives me back here. I could sit there all day, listening to crazy conversations, debates, discussions, people watching, everybody knowing everybody, the local police man saying hello to the local fireman, crazy, yet such community involvement coming out of one small cafe shows human spirit is still alive in the most unexpected corners of the planet. yes I could sit there all day, and when I can’t write no more, I can just pop down to City Lights and buy a great book.
So, if your on holidays, or passing through, or very lucky to be living there, definitely go have a coffee, an Africano for sure, and also, try to be there on a night when there is music. On Wednesdays, there is a great night on, nearly a 10 piece band, guitars, cellos, saxophones, double bass, sort of gypsy-esque music, ah! the atmosphere is electric. Also take a look at the beautiful mural on the back wall, and the local art all around the room.
And most of all, just enjoy your coffee. I brought back a lot of coffee beans with me from the shop to Ireland, but sadly there all gone, and they do not deliver over seas boo hoo. But I will be back, and I’ll be again, sitting outside with the California sun beating on my face, or face to face with the famous breath of the fog, writing away like a mad-man, fueled up on San-Francisco’s best cup of coffee, and a smile from ear to ear.