One More Cup Of Coffee: ICONICA SOCIAL CLUB (Northampton, Mass.)

Precious. Quaint. Fussy. Detailed. These are the words that come to mind as I wait seventeen years for my no-foolin’-when-we-say-slow-bar pour-over coffee. These might be considered negative words, but I don’t intend them as a condemnation. This is an amazing space in an amazing building, it really is. It’s about as good as you can get with the faux-industrial, semi-steampunk aesthetic, where every damned surface is adorned with a hyper-curated selection of midcentury objects and assorted mechanical bits. Take some time to browse the milk crates of records. Examine the vintage adding machine, the antique scale, the one hundred suffocatingly unique light fixtures. Rifle through the bookshelves, touch knick-knacks while rubbing doo-dads, Instagram all the shit bolted to the ceiling and screwed to the walls.

Sitting here makes me overly-conscious of my privilege and class, hyper-aware I’m patronizing such a fancy little spot, a place welcoming a respectful crowd of customers who can be trusted to not destroy the record player needle or steal the guitar amp or overdose in the library loft. Will it last? Can it last? My distrust of humans and Americans and shitheads makes me worry for the owners. My self-conscious nature makes me unable to fully enjoy a generally enjoyable space.

I write at a custom steel frame table with built-in stools, immersed in a parody of myself and the things I like. The coffee is delicious, reasonably priced, and comes on a steel tray with a glass coffee cup and a stoppered science beaker. There is an old-school pencil sharpener. Even the emergency exit signs are individual expressions of… something. I’m sitting inside an art installation. Or maybe I’m in a future Portlandia skit, one that will be written after Fred Armisen’s next visit to Northampton. I am a demographic, a consumer profile, successfully identified and targeted with rare precision. It’s a hell of a place, it really is.

1MCOC is available on Amazon: