One of my greatest concerns when I have to move in to a new place is access to good coffee. I am no all-rounder when it comes to coffee (meaning I can’t just enjoy any coffee) and I’m not a snob either. When I moved to the US, specifically in Lawrence, Kansas, I suspected the prevalence of Starbucks in the area (not a fan; I’m always a Dunkin’ guy), yet I believed that I would come across a number of independent, locally-owned (not to mention hippie-ish) coffee shops since Lawrence is a college town full of vibrant hipster atmosphere (perhaps).
Where to go
Well, my suspicion wasn’t wrong when I first came here in Lawrence. Starbucks are easy to find whenever Dillon’s grocery stores are, since in Lawrence they’re allied. If Starbucks is your thing and you crave for a cold venti of frappucino while in Lawrence, just head to one of the Dillon’s stores closest to you. Of, if you’d rather have your coffee while sitting down, you can visit the Starbucks at downtown Lawrence on the historic Massachusetts Street. I can never say much about Starbucks’s coffee; I always consider most of their non-sweetened offerings watery and their sweetened ones saccharine. If you think their cold brew is good, most other coffee shops in Lawrence blow it out of the water. Now, let’s move on to the places that blow Starbucks out of the water.
When I was in Indonesia, I was always a Dunkin’ guy. Why? Their hot coffee (essentially an Americano) tastes great, although it may not be consistent from one store to another. Here in Lawrence, there are only two Dunkin’ stores; one is on the West 6th Street and Michigan, the other is on the West 23rd and Louisiana. Even though the West 6th Dunkin’ is much closer to where I live (about three blocks away), I always prefer the West 23rd Dunkin’ for several reasons. The first is better coffee; the brew at West 23rd Dunkin’ seems to be stronger, darker and thicker which is evident when you order either an espresso or an Americano. The second is more professional service and barrista-ship (is this even a word?). Do try Dunkin’s cold brew. I always prefer it over their iced coffee.
The Roasterie Air-Roasted Coffee (https://www.theroasterie.com/)
The Roasterie is the official coffee partner of the University of Kansas (KU). It originates from neighboring Kansas City. You can find it almost everywhere on campus, at the Memorial Union building, the many foodcourts and the libraries. Their beans are locally sourced and they employ KU students, meaning that they provide much-needed on campus employment. Their coffee I sometimes find hit-and-miss. If you have to go for The Roasterie, settle for their dark roast Americano/drip coffee or their espresso if you prefer something stronger and briefer (I usually go for the double espresso). Their regular and decaf options are too light for my taste. For a KU student, paying for their regular roast and decaf is also considered unnecessary, except if you want some of their more unconventional offerings, such as the Bavarian or cinnamon coffee. Since The Roasterie is the official coffee provider for KU events, you can always get the regular and decaf for free at almost any university events that serve free refreshments.
Java Break (http://thejavabreak.com/home/)
Java Break was the first coffee shop I visited in Lawrence and I can’t say much about it. It has a great place downtown, at the basement of a historic building, very spacious and hippie-ish. The barrista is nice, albeit grumpy-looking and sleepless because the place is open 24 hours. I haven’t tried many of their coffee drinks, but their regular coffee is even weaker, in my opinion, than The Roasterie’s regular. Their Java Break specialty (with some interesting spices) tastes nice, but it is a bit watery. However, if you happen to be downtown late at night and in need of some not-so-serious coffee and a place to hang out without resorting to one of the bars, Java Break may be the place for you.
UPDATE: I went to Java Break yesterday to study with some friends and I had a cup of Lawrence Slammer (pictured with a KU Jayhawks cap) for the first time. It was good! It’s a shot espresso diluted with the Java Break regular coffee, and it’s a great idea! It’s even better with a dash of turbinado (raw cane sugar) and a pinch of cinnamon powder!
La Prima Tazza (http://laprimatazza.com/)
La Prima Tazza is located just across the street from the downtown Starbucks and is easily the better of the two. It is housed in a historic building with a great vintage atmosphere that somewhat manages to not be too hipsterrific, which perhaps explains why it attracts people from different age groups instead of only the hippie youngsters. There are many house blends to choose from, but if the drip coffee is not your thing, the espresso is strong and rich. Making it a macchiato is even better. If you feel a little adventurous, you can try one of the coffee specialties. I have only tried the Indonesian specialty, a drink that I never actually found in Indonesia. It’s a strong and flavorful drink, a mixture of two shots of espresso and spiced milk. Give it a try!
Alchemy is a locally owned coffee and bake shop. It is a quieter place altogether because it is located a little inside, about ten blocks away from the downtown coffee places listed here. I came to Alchemy for the hyped cold brew and it delivers! It is perhaps the best, the richest cold brew I have had so far, bar none. I forgot to ask about the beans and the method used, because I was there when it was about to close. Alchemy also makes the best blueberry pie I have ever had! My biggest gripe with Alchemy is the rather unfortunate operating hours, opening too early (at 7 am) and closing too soon (at 6 pm) which prevents me from having a refreshing glass of cold brew after classes. Still, I’ll be back and have more awesome coffee drinks to go with the blueberry pie!
I will continue to explore Lawrence and its surrounding areas for more coffee. So, I will keep this page updated! See you!
Kami biasa memanggilnya Wa Acih atau Bi Acih atau terkadang Wa Aceu. Ia adalah kakak lain ibu dari ibu kandungku. Walaupun berbeda ibu, hubungan wa Acih dan ibu kandungku sangat dekat dan wa Acih sangat menyayangi adik-adiknya. Sejak menikah, wa Acih memutuskan untuk tinggal bersama suaminya di Kecamatan Majalaya, Kabupaten Bandung. Setidaknya dua minggu sekali, wa Acih selalu menyempatkan diri untuk mampir ke kota Bandung menengok keluarga adik-adiknya.
Sejak dulu sampai terakhir bertemu beberapa bulan lalu, wa Acih adalah salah satu anggota keluarga terlucu dalam keluarga besar kami. Kemampuan dan staminanya dalam membanyol, terutama dalam Bahasa Sunda, sulit ditandingi oleh anggota-anggota keluarga lain. Inilah yang membuat wa Acih sering dirindukan, terutama ketika beberapa tahun terakhir wa Acih didera diabetes dan tidak bisa lagi terlampau lincah bepergian ke kota Bandung.
Kabar kepergian wa Acih saya peroleh dari sepupu saya lewat grup WhatsApp keluarga sepulang kuliah hari pertama di semester pertama saya di University of Kansas, Amerika Serikat. Sungguh malam itu adalah malam yang hampa, tidak ada yang bisa dilakukan selain berdoa seorang diri selepas sholat Isya yang terlampau malam. Tidak ada kesempatan untuk berkunjung, mengantar ke pembaringan terakhir, dan berdoa bersama sambil berbela sungkawa dan menghibur anggota-anggota keluarga yang ditinggalkan.
Saya sempat banyak melamun di hari berikutnya dan sedikit kurang focus belajar di hari kedua kuliah. Akan tetapi, keesokan harinya saya teringat salah satu banyolan terlucu Wa Acih, yang sulit untuk diceritakan kembali di sini karena alih kode yang sulit dijelaskan dari Bahasa Indonesia ke Bahasa Sunda. Saya pun tertawa-tawa sendiri sepulangnya ke apartemen dan bisa mengenang Wa Acih pada saat terlucunya. Dalam ketiadaan pun ia tetap lucu, dan saya yakin Wa Acih akan tertawa-tawa bahagia sesampainya nun di sana. Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi rojiun.
It is unfortunate that I should begin my updates on my first month in Lawrence with the sad news of the passing of my aunt. We usually called her Wa Acih or Bi Acih (lit. Aunty Acih) or less commonly, Wa Aceu. She was my mother’s half-sister from my grandfather’s previous marriage. Despite coming from a different mother, she loved her half-sisters very dearly. Since getting married in the early 1970s, Wa Acih decided to live in Majalaya, a suburban district of Bandung regency. At least once a month, Wa Acih went to Bandung city to visit the families of her sisters.
At least until several months ago, when I met her for the last time, she was one of the funniest family members in our extended family. Her ability and stamina to create jokes, especially in Sundanese, is hard to be matched by other relatives. This is what my relatives missed the most about Wa Acih, especially since in the past couple of years, she could not visit Bandung city at will due to diabetes.
The news of Wa Acih’s passing was relayed by a cousin through the family WhatsApp group, in the evening of the first day of class in my first semester at the University of Kansas. The night suddenly turned hollow, nothing else to do except for praying alone after the Isya prayer late at night. There was no opportunity to visit the internment and pray together in a congregation while expressing condolences and consoling the surviving family members.
I spent the following day pensively and even became less focused on the second day of class. The next day, however, I suddenly remembered one of Wa Acih’s funniest jokes, which is difficult to tell here because it involves code switching from Indonesian to Sundanese. I laughed all by myself once I got to my apartment and I was glad I could remember Wa Acih at her funniest. Even in her absence, she remains funny, and I am sure she will laugh happily once she gets up there. Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi rojiun.
Sebulan lalu (sudah lewat satu hari sebenarnya), saya berangkat dari Tanjungsari, Sumedang menuju Lawrence, Kansas, Amerika Serikat. Saya akan tinggal cukup lama di Lawrence, karena saya terdaftar sebagai mahasiswa purna waktu di program doktoral Sastra Inggris, Department of English, University of Kansas, yang artinya saya akan tinggal selama 4-5 tahun hingga program saya selesai. Hidup di sebuah kota kecil di tengah Amerika Serikat tentu berbeda dengan hidup di sebuah kota kecil di Jawa Barat, Indonesia, dan tentu terasa semakin berbeda karena sebulan ini saya hidup sendirian, jauh dari keluarga (istri dan anak saya akan menyusul nanti), sahabat-sahabat, serta kolega-kolega. Akan tetapi, saya berusaha menyesuaikan diri dengan lingkungan baru, kawan-kawan baru dan cara belajar baru. Karena saya tidak harus bekerja di sela-sela kelas, (sepertinya) saya pun akan punya waktu untuk menulis dan mengunggah sesuatu di blog saya yang sudah cukup berdebu karena lama ditinggalkan. Selamat membaca!
A month ago (a month and one day, to be exact), I left Tanjungsari, Sumedang, Indonesia for Lawrence, Kansas, United States of America. I am going to stay for quite a while in Lawrence, since I have been enrolled as a full-time student in the PhD in English Literature program, Department of English at the University of Kansas. This means that I am going to live in Lawrence for the duration of my program, which usually takes 4-5 years. Living in a small city in the middle of the US is certainly different from living in a small city in West Java, Indonesia and it is even more different since currently I have been living alone, far from my family (my wife and son will catch up soon), friends and colleagues. However, I am adjusting to living and studying here, while making new friends along the way. Since I don’t have to work in between classes (except for homework, that is), I can allocate time to write something and get this blog up and running after gathering dust for several months. Enjoy reading!