Those who know me know that I often go to coffee shops when I need to get some work done, particularly when I want to do some writing. I’ve found that the coffee shop environment, for whatever reason (I’m guessing caffeine), is very conducive to me being able to concentrate on my work. While I usually go to a local Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts out of convenience, I always enjoy the opportunity to try out a work environment that is a little different.
So it was on a recent morning that I found myself in downtown Atlanta needing a place to spend a few hours doing some work. Consulting the Free Wi-Fi app on my iPhone, I spotted the Outwrite Bookstore and Coffeehouse as being less than a mile from where I was at that time.
“Perfect,” I thought. “A bookstore and coffee shop for writers. What more could I want?” (I’ll note that I’d had very little sleep the night before). A short drive later, I was walking in the front door of the shop.
Upon entering the store, I was focused on two things: placing an order for coffee, and locating the restroom as quickly as possible. So it was that in my sleep-deprived state I failed to notice some distinguishing aspects of the bookstore until I stepped into the restroom. As I stared at a poster over the urinal of a topless man in leather shorts holding a chain, it occurred to me that perhaps the emphasis in the store’s name was not on the word “write,” but on the word “out.” The poster over the toilet further seemed to confirm my suspicions.
Going back to the counter to pick up my coffee, for the first time I started looking around at the selection of books and magazines around me. I failed to spot any publication that did not have a gay or lesbian theme. In fact, had I merely paid more attention to some of the artwork on the walls or the display items near the front of the store, the target demographic of their business would have been unmistakable.
While a gay bookstore would not normally be my first choice of a place to do some work, their cafe area looked comfortable and there were plenty of power plugs for the computer. I settled in at a small table in the corner with my coffee, which was far better than any coffee Starbucks has ever given me, and started working.
The music coming from the speakers overhead was at the right volume to be enjoyable without being overwhelming. Apart from derailing into a couple of pop tunes at one point, the music played for the entire time I was there was quite good. For those focused on gay stereotypes, I’ll verify that I did not hear Liza Minelli or Barbara Streisand the entire time I was there. The coffee was excellent, as was the turkey sandwich I later ordered for lunch. All of the employees were friendly and professional, and I was never made to feel out of place despite how obvious it probably was that I was out of place.
Since homosexual literature and homoerotic art are not particularly interesting to me, I admit that I did not peruse the books or magazines in the store. Thus, I cannot comment on the quality or variety of their reading selection. Even if I had checked out their selection in more detail, I wouldn’t have any idea what is considered good gay literature. So for those interested in knowing whether this is a good place to pick up some gay or lesbian books, I’m afraid I simply don’t know. However, Georgia Voice named them as the Best Bookstore in Atlanta, so they must be doing something right.
For heterosexuals concerned about going into a gay bookstore, I can assure you that there were plenty of straights who came in during the time I was there. While it is certainly difficult to say with certainty who is and who isn’t gay or lesbian under such circumstances, heterosexual couples holding hands or carrying children are a pretty good sign. Most of these merely came in to get coffee and left, but it was nice to see that there were plenty of members of the straight community who were bringing their business to this establishment too.
I realize that this is less of a review and more of a rambling account of my day. There was nothing particularly funny or usual about the visit, apart from discovering I had accidentally wandered into a gay bookstore for coffee. Well, except maybe for the guy who started doing an ass-slapping dance for a moment when a dance tune came on the sound system. And there was the flyer for a book signing by some topless guy wearing Captain America shorts with no tights. But apart from that, it was a fairly normal day of writing in a coffee shop.
For those looking for a place to get a great cup of coffee and to use someone else’s free wifi, I highly recommend the Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse in downtown Atlanta. This endorsement applies whether you are gay, lesbian, or straight. Great coffee, great snacks, great music, great atmosphere, and a great little cafe area make Outwrite a great place to pass a few hours. While I confess that I probably would not have selected it as my writing location for the day if I had known in advance that it was a gay bookstore, I can say with confidence I will be going back the next time I need a place to work in downtown Atlanta.
If you are in downtown Atlanta craving a good cup of coffee, stop by the Outwrite Bookstore and Coffee Shop. You’ll be glad you did.