Wake Up to Waking Life
I finally visited the fairly new espresso house, Waking Life, on 976 Haywood Rd in West Asheville. Joining me were two houseguests, both of whom consider themselves espresso junkies and experts in the craft. Hip artists living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, my friends can get some of the best, most compulsively perfect espresso in America on their morning walk to work.
These New Yorkers were humbled before the ultra-specific, handcrafted espresso, presented in precious robin’s egg blue cups. Sunlight streamed in to the cozy little shop. We sipped our drinks and watched in awe as customers, all sitting alone in front of laptops, meandered in and out of conversation, debate, laughter, and then back to the solitaire game or whatever. They didn’t arrive together, but the atmosphere there was so comfortable, they spontaneously treated each other like old pals, working side by side. This phenomenon felt completely foreign to my New York visitors, who declared their Americano a perfect storm of balance, richness, and adrenaline.
In this Starbucks age, a local coffee shop must deliver high quality coffee or have an unbeatable location to stay competitive. Waking Life’s owner has invested most of his money and energy into the (hand-cranked) espresso machine, the fine, locally roasted coffee, and a small assortment of rustic loose teas. Get the espresso right, and you’ve got an instant following. Waking Life has earned their place in the coffee pantheon of Asheville, and is sure to attract a dedicated clientele.
When it comes to coffee, I’m kind of like the girls from Sex in the City. I often go for the Cosmopolitan of caffeine, the Mocha. I detected none of the requisite thick, high-fructose corn and chocolate syrup in my mocha. Instead, the coffee leaped ahead of a lingering chocolate aftertaste, balanced so exceptionally well, I hadn’t even ruined my appetite for dinner. Rather than simply discerning the tongue parching experience of “sweet” coffee, I was able to separate the flavors enough to experience them both, bitter acid and sweet decadence, before they met in an erotic tango of caffeinated bliss.
If espresso’s not your thing, you can find (arguably) the best cup of coffee in town. Each individual cup is hand brewed, just for you. That’s dedication.
I love when a fanatic like Jared Rutledge opens a coffee shop, simply because he loves his town enough to do the hard work to elevate the quality of its beloved coffee. Sipping our steaming drinks on a frigid winter day, we felt loved too.
If you have a morning, afternoon or evening to kill, I suggest you spend it at Waking Life, open 7am-9pm daily.