Does anyone else remember the "Seinfeld" storyline where Kramer wrote a coffee table book about coffee tables? Not quite as funny but infinitely more practical, Tacoma artist Marsha Glazière has taken a twist on Kramer's silly idea and self-published a coffee table book about local coffee shops--she visited 230 places, but ultimately profiles 120 in her book "Eclectic Coffee Spots in Puget Sound."
The artist's personal favorite: Uptown Espresso. (Painting by, and image courtesy of, Marsha Glaziere.)
Considering Glazière is an internationally exhibited mixed-media artist and not, for example, a writer or a coffee (snob) connoisseur, this book is written from a uniquely aesthetic eye. She spent three years turning her perspective on the area's plentiful coffee shops--including ones I've written about here, like El Diablo, Caffé Fiore, Tougo, and Caffé Vita--into a 153-page collection of business profiles, images, recipes, and personal musings. Each of the 120 spots (broken down into six zones around the Sound) includes a bit on what is offered, perhaps a little history, and either a photo or an original mixed-media painting. The result is a book that focuses much more on cafe culture and the environment we prefer to drink in than the coffee itself.
"There are so many interesting--and, of course, eclectic--environments for people to come together, whether solo or collectively," Glazière said. "[During this project] I have met many great people, tasted great coffee, and hopefully have been able to convey through my paintings and photographs our eclectic and vast coffee culture."
I was excited to look through Glaziere's book--I'm a big believer in storytelling and self-publishing, if that's how you need to get your story told, and I obviously love coffee shops. Visually, the book is captivating, as would be expected. The artist has an interesting way of looking at the world, and she clearly appreciates the unique character and vibrant colors of our local coffee scene. But as an unrepentant word-nerd, I simply have to bring up the fact that there are a few mistakes and inconsistencies that could have easily been fixed with a little copy-editing and fact-checking--the largest being multiple references to Cafe Besula instead of Cafe Besalu, one of the most popular pastries shops (with some pretty great coffee, too) in the city. If this were online it could be an easy fix, but print is embarrassingly unforgivable that way.
Regardless, for a comprehensive look at the wackiness of Seattle's cafe culture, Glaziere has put together an impressive tome (available for $42 from Amazon.com or $35 directly from her website). Like most of Kramer's entrepreneurial plans, his coffee table book idea ended poorly--I sincerely wish nothing but success for Glazière's.
To find out more, head to Elliott Bay Bookstore in Capitol Hill this Friday, Jan. 11, at 7 p.m. to see Glazière talk about her book.