Monday, March 17, 2014

30 in 30: Reality Tuesday Cafe

This is the ninth article in my 30 in 30 challenge, where I write 30 things I'm thankful for in the 30 days leading up to my thirtieth birthday.

There was a large commotion going on in the tiny city of Park Hills several years ago. Something was coming to town that would certainly change everything. Gone were the days of stinky doll house shops. Seriously, the old doll store smelled like cigars, moldy bread and dirt. Dirt has a smell, you know.

That musty store was being replaced by a new vision. A place to relax, unwind, converse with friends or study for that upcoming chemistry test my classmates procrastinated on (certainly, I'd NEVER do that!) That place was a coffee shop. For a Northern Kentucky gal that had been going to Sitwells and the Highland Coffee House with my older sisters for years, I was a little skeptical.

It's true, I was a coffee snob at the ripe age of 16. I blame my sisters.

Reality Tuesday Cafe (RTC) was a new concept for the area and many people didn't know what to think about it...until they had their homemade pastries, amazing coffee and one-of-a-kind lattes. Starbucks, who?!

It's pretty odd that I am thankful for a coffee shop, but over the last decade, it has proven to be so much more than that.

I pulled late nights studying for exams in high school and college. I discovered how awesome veggie sandwiches were and that chicken salad as good as their chicken salad could possibly be a sin. The coffee house was also a place of employment because I needed something to support my caffeine habit. Don't judge me until you've had their Highlander Grogg. On second thought, don't try it you may drink it all before I get a cup!

It was while working there that I learned making espresso was difficult and steaming milk was not for the faint of heart.
To get a great double shot of espresso, one most learn to properly tamp. Tamping is when you compress the coffee grounds so that you can pull an effective espresso shot. Tamping is an art form and any real barista will judge you if you don't do it correctly. Here is all you ever wanted to know about tamping coffee:
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a portafilter filled with espresso grounds. photo credit:
Steaming milk for lattes and cappuccinos was also difficult. If you really want to know, read this how-to:

Working at RTC was one of my favorite jobs because of the people I worked with as well as the people who came in for their daily cup of joe. I knew most of the customers by name as well as their order. I built some great relationships while working there that are still just as strong as the coffee that is still daily brewed there.

RTC was also a place to gather. It's my favorite place to catch up with old friends because it just as cozy as a home, but without the responsibility of having to clean! I've planned many a baby showers, wedding showers and class reunions at that coffee shop. Dreams have been shared, tears have been shed and memories have been made in that coffee house that I will keep close with me always. 

The biggest reason I am thankful for RTC the most, is the time I was able to spend with my twin and our kids. When our oldest kids were teeny tiny, Theresa and I began meeting up at the shop each Saturday. We would pack up the pumpkin seats, head in to grab our coffee and we just sat and talked. The discussions weren't eye opening or even that important--but they were needed. Theresa and I made time for ourselves on those Saturdays and while I think we would have been just as close as we are today, RTC held us accountable. If the two of us missed a week, we'd walk in to the workers, and other loyal customers asking us where the heck we'd been. It was a great feeling to know that people didn't mind the nutty Smith twins being around :)

Not only is RTC home to the most amazing coffee you'll ever drink, it is also where many of my memories were made, life-lessons were learned and time was spent with those I cherish the most. So on the outside it is just a coffee shop that replaced a creepy doll house. But on the inside it is so much more.

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