As is usually the case on Fridays, I am completely devoid of energy, so this morning when I needed to drive my car into town for maintenance, I was not a happy camper. Fridays have become a day of working from the peace and quiet of my own home, but because of my car, it was going to be a long day of working from the waiting room of the Honda dealership.
*massive internal groaning*
But it’s like they say: Suck it up, Buttercup.
So before I could change my mind, I headed over to Austin and arrived at the service bay promptly for my 9am appointment.
But then, a miracle occurred. *angelic aaaah*
God looked down upon His creation and determined that for the safety of all mankind, I needed to get the hell out of Dodge. As a result, a loaner vehicle suddenly became available, and I was able to head back home.
To celebrate my salvation from vehicle maintenance hell, I decided to make a stop at Chaparral Coffee, which is currently located in the downtown square of Lockhart, TX.
This coffee shop opened only a few months before I moved into town, and for a while there, I was uncertain it was going to survive. The store is small and a bit cramped, but over the past two years, the owners have made some great improvements to the seating and the menu, and I was pleasantly surprised to find the place bustling with life when I walked in this morning.
Since I have to travel to Austin or San Marcos most days, visiting the Lockhart town square is low on my list of priorities, so I will admit that it had been a while since my last stop at Chaparral. That being said, the owner immediately recognized me once I walked up to the counter and welcomed me back.
I grabbed my usual cappuccino and, deciding to make the most of the warm weather, walked to the tables just outside the front door. Again, the space isn’t the largest or the most scenic that I have ever visited, but there is just something about Lockhart that lends this coffee shop the vibe that I so crave but often can’t find in either Austin or San Marcos.
Part of it is most definitely due to the lack of traffic or crowds. Sure, there are times when the square can be busy, particularly during events, but on your average day, it has never reached the levels of insanity that I’ve just had to acclimate myself to in the city. There is always plenty of parking, and I have yet to run into someone with a damn clipboard asking for my political support or money (so annoying!).
The patrons are a different experience as well. Austin has been inundated with hipsters and techies, and San Marcos is filled with Texas State students a majority of the year. To sit down at a coffee shop and see a mother and her son wearing cowboy hats and boots, a middle-aged man reading Philippa Gregory, bikers of all ages and sizes, and a crew of senior ladies out for a day of shopping is incredibly refreshing and entertaining.
Oh, and let’s not forget about the coffee and food.
The first time I grabbed a drink from Chaparral, I remember thinking, “This is better than a lot of Austin coffee shops.” And that is true even today. I know that I can get a cappuccino, black coffee, or even a bag of beans from Chaparral and not be disappointed.
And the pastries? They can barely keep them in stock! But rest assured, they are working on getting more food from local vendors such as Love and Lattice. I was told that pop tarts and hand pies are a possibility, and as a sugar junkie, I’m super excited about that.
But what has really pushed Chaparral into the upper echelon of coffee shops in my mind is its genuine commitment to community. Since it opened, the shop has been a huge supporter of local artists and musicians and is a regular contributor to local events such as the Sip and Stroll and First Fridays. Chaparral is easily becoming a major figure in the town of Lockhart, and the community vibe is obvious in the store.
So in other words, while visitors may come for the BBQ, they should really stay for the coffee.
The one and the only Pookachino