I have been to some really nice coffeeshops in my life:
Michelangelo’s and Mother Fool’s and Lazy Jane’s in Madison
Racy’s in Eau Claire.
Conscious Coffee in Talkeetna, Alaska.
And then there’s the Coffee House at McMurdo Station. There are so many things I like about the Coffee House:
- It’s located in an old quonset hut, a half-circle wooden building that as far as I know, has been here since McMurdo was founded in the mid-1950s.
- It has a rack of fat tire bikes parked outside, because EVERY coffeeshop needs a mess of bikes parked outside. Even in Antarctica.
- It has $2 glasses of sweet red wine (yeah, it’s boxed wine. Judge me all you want)
- There’s FREE fancy coffees most mornings from 6 until 8 am. I will never be able to buy drinks at coffeeshops ever again after experiencing the joy of a free hazelnut mocha.
- There is an abundance of puzzles and board games.
- There’s a curtained-off area with comfy chairs and a big-screen TV where people watch football games, aurora photo compilation videos, and TV shows during “Hard Drive and Chill” and movie nights (no Neflix down here!)
- There’s a relatively good Internet connection.
- There are huge old wooden sleds hanging on the walls
- There are not one, but TWO coffeeshop stickers, so you know it’s a big deal.
- There’s a familiarity and comfiness that I sometimes have a hard time finding at McMurdo. I have never liked bars, and the two bars at McMurdo have not done much for me, but the coffeeshop is right up my alley. The first time I walked in, I immediately felt at home.
There are a lot of little things that make McMurdo a cool place to live, but the Coffee House is special even by McMurdo standards. It makes a cold, alien, and monotonous environment feel so much warmer, and it has an element of cool that’s hard to describe. You know how sitting at Mother Fool’s with a book and a nice drink can make you feel just so sophisticated and stylish? Take that feeling, add a free fancy drink and a dog-earred copy of The New Yorker that’s two years out of date (since that’s all we have), put that in Antarctica, and you know how I feel at the Coffee House.