In the arts, there is a word we use which does not seem to have much practical use to the rest of the world. Caesura. -- Stop. Pause. Break. Cease. Time does not exist here.
Beautiful espresso at Cesura, from Coffee Extraordinaire Katherine Hartline.
As a choral conductor, I invariably experience the caesura as an intense contest of will. First, because I have to stop. (I hate stopping. On an average day, I don't even much like to sit down unless I'm driving somewhere.) But lest I think that forcing myself to observe a musical cease-fire is difficult, I can always hold my reaction up in comparison to my choirs' reactions... it does not matter how much I do or do not want the music to break. Choirs abhor musical breaks. Particularly ones that require them all to break at the same time, for the same amount of time. I sometimes feel that, instead of "railroad tracks," the symbol should have been a railroad crossing instead, complete with flashing lights and barricades. The caesura interrupts one of our foundational laws... the one about an object in motion remaining in motion. It states, quite clearly, that for no reason other than compositional whim, all motion must temporarily cease.
I thought, perhaps, that Bellevue's Cafe Cesura must have been arbitrarily named. But after visiting it for a quick, ten-minute cup of coffee this weekend and leaving roughly two hours later... I suppose I see their point. Time, somehow, suddenly quit on me.
In many respects, the Bellevue Cafe is barely even open. It is up and running smoothly, but still less than a month old. Its official opening was on 11/11/11. Its street is quiet. People are still figuring out it's there. It hasn't fully become what it will be, yet.
But it has a pretty good idea. For a new cafe, its menu is well-developed and well-presented. Its furniture is decidedly single-era in theme, and there are no signs of waiting for matching dishes or any other tiny details to appear. The long, wood table at the center of the cafe is polished to a gleam, one-of-a-kind (made especially for Cesura), and surrounded with comfortable chairs. I had to look up the cafe's opening date, and was surprised to find it in official operation for fewer than six months; it seems so settled.
On bar, behind the bright red La Marzocco espresso machine, shots of Stumptown's coffee are making their way into fabulous in-house mugs. The coffee is single origin rather than typical espresso blend, and the mugs are, brilliantly enough, clear and insulated: the cup doesn't get hot, the coffee doesn't get cold, and the ability to see the whole shot, all at once in all its glory, is a rare treat for most coffee drinkers.
Tyson Stagg watches while his Aeropress brews.
As an unexpected bonus in my day, I happened to arrive just before barista Tyson Stagg began teaching a class on Aeropressing, and I failed to leave before the class began. So I stayed, and tried a couple of coffees brewed by different Aeropress technique, discussing and debating technicalities such as the optimal amount of agitation for an Aeropress brew, from my comfortable leather chair.
If I must observe a caesura in my day, I am at a loss for one that might be better to observe than one that ends with a really comfortable chair, the conversation of coffee folk, and samples of coffee to try.
Cafe Cesura is located at 1015 108th Ave NE in Bellevue, and is open from 7 until 7, every day of the week. Watch their website for information about regularly scheduled brewing classes, where, with zero pressure and absolutely no intimidation, you can learn about brewing your own coffee at home, just like the pros.