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Café Volan. A.P. Paul Goldfinger photo. July 15, 2015.

Café Volan. A.P. Paul Goldfinger photo. Re-posted from July 15, 2015. Ocean Grove still lacks an authentic coffee shop, and that is a real missing link for our community. ©

 


Eileen Goldfinger at Volan sampling a scone from Balthazar’s * in SoHo. Paul Goldfinger ©

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.  There are a few minor revisions in this 2015 re-post.

Some of you might wonder about the persistent search for a coffee shop near OG, since there are several places in the Grove where you can buy coffee.  The reason is, for some of us, we seek more than just coffee.  In our culture, and in Europe, the coffee shop is a comfortable gathering place where one can appreciate the best coffees from around the world.

Such shops are not general practitioners, they are specialists, and they know how to create a first rate cappuccino or latte.  Coffee is of primary interest in such places, not an afterthought.  The Barbaric Bean was beginning to be like that, but the Grove’s only true coffee shop has vanished.

A real coffee shop is a welcoming place which  has seating and where you can savor the barista’s drinks  while reading the paper, having a fascinating conversation, people watching,  or enjoying a special snack. It tends to be where the local characters go. Wi-Fi is often available for those who are working on the next great American novel.  After all, J.K. Rollings wrote Harry Potter while sipping some brew in a local coffee shop.

In Asbury Park today an Ocean Grove friend introduced me to a real coffee shop;  in fact, Café Volan  seems like a throwback to old Soho or Greenwich Village in the ’60’s.   Café Volan  on Bangs Avenue, just off Cookman near the Brick Wall, is so laid back that you can imagine Bob Dylan singing unamplified on a stool, or Lenny Bruce doing shtick.

It is a dumpy place, but that’s fine because it feels like home—–like cafés I visited when my friends and I would wander around Bleeker or Christopher Streets in “The Village.”   It is the sort of coffee house where the locals and regulars wander in.

My impression from the moment I walked in was:  “I am going to like this place.”  It resonated at a very personal level and felt like somewhere you might re-visit again and again.

A visit to Café Volan is  like time travel, but there is one thing that doesn’t spell nostalgia—it is the delicious high quality of their coffee.  They also serve some unique snacks and toasted exotic breads.  They get their coffee from North Carolina, and their breads and pastries are brought in from Brooklyn.  I haven’t been to Williamsburg for many years, but this entire place seems to have been shipped intact from there.

If you like places that seem authentic and live up to it, try Café Volan —within walking distance of the Grove.

 

*Link to our post about Balthazar’s from 2013:

Blogfinger post on Balthazar 2013

 

CHARLIE PARKER.  He got his start in New York, but this jazz great didn’t play in coffee houses. Mostly he was up in Harlem in jazz clubs.   The folk singers were in the Village coffee houses  in the ’60’s, but there were jazz venues in the Village which my friends and I visited often, growing up in a Jersey bedroom community, 20 minutes from downtown.

This is “All the Things You Are.” It was written by Jerome Kern (music) and Oscar Hammerstein II (lyrics)   We recently posted a Miles Davis version, and the song holds up even without those magnificent poetic lyrics.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

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