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Who wants to cook? Let’s go out to eat. See where News-Herald staff members dined and where they go to unwind in our area. You might just find a new treasure in your own neighborhood.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Hold the Coffee @ Wiggin Street Coffee by Guest Writer, Matthew Sellers

EDITOR’S NOTE: To read the latest posts on Simon’s coffee shop adventures, visit his blog at

There is no Simon this week.  He is tied and restrained with duct tape in an anonymous car trunk in Euclid.  I'm kidding, but I garnered your attention, no?  (I do not mean to be overly prejudicial, but according to the French Foreign Ministry, the probability of Simon finding himself in such unfortunate circumstances in Euclid is actually quite high.  I lovingly ask him not to park in the dark, but do you think he listens?)  Actually, his whereabouts are seemingly more lackluster.  He is currently slipping and sliding along "the 90," among the torrent of frigid, meteorological ejaculation that occurs often during January in Lake County, Ohio. He said he had to "write about a council meeting," or whatever that means.

I'm trying to bring sex appeal to coffee.
Instead of Simon, I will be writing about Wiggin Street Coffee, a charming locale Simon and I visit upon occasion when exploring central Ohio.  So you and I will not be complete strangers, allow me to tell you that I am Matthew, Simon's charming, remarkably attractive, humble boyfriend, a graduate of "The" Ohio State University with a degree in English and minors in History and Spanish.  (Don't ever allow me to catch you withholding the rather sanctimonious "The" in my Alma mater's title.  I will quickly interrupt you and ask you to rightfully repeat yourself.)  Seeing that I hold a terribly marketable degree of English from this great Ohio school, I enrolled in a nursing program this past July and upon completion of my NCLEX in the fall, I will be moving to the Cleveland area to begin practice as a nurse and further my nursing education so that I may assist Simon when he has another bout with mono, stomach flu, or listens to copious amount of Daughter and acquires the melancholy.  (If you don't yet know Daughter, please cast your attention upon her via Youtube.)      

Location/Local Colour: Wiggin Street Coffee is cozily nestled in the idyllic hills of The Village of Gambier and Kenyon College in Knox County, Ohio; one hour north of Columbus and two hours southeast of Cleveland.  Kenyon College is considered a "new Ivy" and number-one on Forbes' List of Most Beautiful College Campuses.  The sleeper-hit film, Liberal Arts, starring Josh Radnor and Elizabeth Olsen was filmed upon her campus.  It is the quintessential, leaf-strewn liberal arts school where creative, bookish, and heatedly philanthropic, and righteously hipster students from the Northeast and southern California enroll to "get away and find themselves" and earn degrees in Women's Studies, Art, Anthropology, Dance, Queer Theory, English, Being Lesbian  and many more auspicious foci of study.  In short, Kenyon College is a world-renown, private, Midwestern Mecca for the arts and humanities with a $60,000 yearly price tag.  Also, it has one of the most quaint, civic-minded coffee shops I've ever visited.

Comfortable furniture for warm conversations.
I am going to disclose something rather shocking: I am not the "frontal parking" connoisseur that Simon is.  (I believe I just heard his Ford Focus break with alarm.)  My belief on the matter is simply: buildings and architectural theory evolve over time and what and how something was built in the past often had its fitting reasons, so if it makes little sense or does not meld well with current building/commercial trends, that's quite okay, in my opinion, and Simon and I are simply going to have to agree to disagree.  (Trial/error, cause/effect are how history is written, but that's for another blog.)  I myself, am a Romantic, and like old things that do not always make sense in 2014.  Wiggin Street Coffee, at 101 East Wiggin Street, however, is located on a pedestrian-friendly location, but it is housed in a tiny Victorian block adjacent to a historical Episcopal Church, which I attended when I was younger.  Parking is available across the street along the front lawn of church grounds.  Every business in Gambier, Ohio is locally-owned and the citizens advocate damned hard to keep life that way.  Juxtaposed to Wiggin Street Coffee are a rather Jewish deli frequented by Episcopalians, the campus bookstore, Village Inn Bar & Grille and Kenyon administration buildings. Kenyon College charmingly coalesces its college with the commercial, and vice versa.

Warm, clean and little distraction for the Thinking person.
Space/Atmosphere: When Simon and I visited, the students were on winter holiday, so we beheld a vacant coffee house with plenty of space and solace for Simon's article-writing and my feverish attempt to catch another Pokemon on my DS.  The mocha walls and minimalist decor provide a calm, clean,warm environment with little flare or distraction for the Thinking person.  A guest may choose from a myriad of seating options: the cafe bar with stools and industrial lighting, several circles of plush sofas for a more collectivist meeting, or booth seating with (Hallelujah!) plenty of electrical outlets for lengthy laptop use and electronic devices.  (My greatest pet peeve is lack of outlets in coffee shops to accommodate rather lengthy stays.  However, remember to gauge what you purchase based upon the length of your stay, but we will cover that later.) I enjoy booth seating because Simon and I both have space for our tasks and duties, but I can easily disrupt him with a gentle kick below the table to ask him to assist with my DS.  ("You press the 'B' button, Matthew.  The 'B' button...")

The barista area was lit with industrial-style bulbs
 and the equipment was open for the guests
to enjoy the drink-making process.
Less conspicuously, but nonetheless, just as important as the coffee shop at large, Wiggin Street Coffee has one of the most thoughtful and civic-minded restrooms I've ever graced with my urinary and scatological needs.  Stocked with 100% natural and biodegradable hand soap and unbleached toilet paper made entirely from post-consumer materials, the most ardent environmentalist can relieve herself with little or no ecological consequence.  (Also, it was delightfully warm.  Typically, restrooms in coffee shops are too cold.)  The restroom has the same, warm mocha walls and my bottom could not necessarily tell the difference in the unbleached toilet paper versus the traditional Charmin blankets I use at home, but my bottom was definitely a hero, that day.

I like my coffee like I enjoy my men: strong, slightly pale
and a little sweet.
Food & Beverage:  Now, I understand this blog is titled, "Hold the Coffee," but doing so in my entry would only prove to be a detriment in the proper description of Wiggin Street Coffee, because the beverages are what makes it so special.  Wiggin Street Coffee does offer various baked goods like scones, danishes, muffins, and upon occasion, sandwiches.  However, the reason to visit is its beverages.  (I know, I know, I'm breaking the blog's orthodoxy, today.)  I bought Simon and I drip coffee with some rather robust espresso, a crisp, peppermint mocha with a delightful leaf pattern in the foam, a raspberry-chocolate scone, vanilla danish and eventual refills prepared by a notably professional barista for less than fifteen bucks.  Also, the coffee has a streamlined, civic distribution process from "farmer to roaster to you," heralded by its coffee provider, Epitome of Granola.  Many coffee shops are rather discreet in their drink-making processes, placing their brewers, presses, mixers and such behind a counter or partition, but Wiggin Street Coffee is rather celebratory, expressive and sensuous in serving the guests in a brightly-lit, barista area with all of the equipment and accessories within view.  These people live and breathe coffee.  As mentioned, the barista station is surrounded by a coffee bar and stools so the guests may observe their drink's genesis and burgeoning.  The industrial light bulbs are simply breathtaking.

Coffee with a conscience.
On a side note, since I have free reign of this post while Simon is somewhere in the wintry wilderness, I am going to take a moment to discuss what I'll call, "drinks purchased/length-of-visit etiquette."  Like many coffee shops, they are located within proximity to a college or university and students frequent them for rather long allotments of time whilst studying, yet sometimes purchase very little in proportion to their stay.  My rule of thumb is such: for every hour I occupy a table, I purchase one cup of coffee.  This keeps my table and involves me in the life and investment of my coffee shop.  We all win.

Overall, Wiggin Street Coffee is for the coffee shop goer who yearns to experience the romance of a rural, liberal arts campus with a natural, food chain-free backdrop.  From a humanities scholar novice to the  graduate like myself who often wishes to reconnect with that epoch of my life, visiting the Village of Gambier and Kenyon College to have a peppermint mocha will prove to be a pleasant step into nostalgia and quietness for the Thinking person.

Simon will be back next week. In the meantime, send suggestions of any coffee destinations to @SimonSaysNH or


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Blogger Unknown said...

What a great story!!Also a great area and place to write about! Who doesn't like coffee !! I'm thinking our work needs some of this coffee for our night shift!! Lol

January 6, 2014 at 2:26 PM 

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