Sunday, July 5, 2009


With the plethora of cafes in the Valley, I’m never more than five minutes away from a non-fat, decaf latte. In fact, there are so many cafes to choose from, when it’s time to take a coffee break with friends, we have a hard time deciding which one to visit.

My favorite haunts are always reliable—Pascal’s, Bagel Street Café, Cherubini, Borders Book Cafe, Starbucks and Peets. They all offer a cozy place to relax and chat while sipping on a rich, hot mocha or cappuccino.

Coffee breaks are a long-time tradition with women. Back in my mother’s day, they didn’t have cafes, only a handful of coffee shops, which weren’t suited to the type of social connection women wanted—and needed. Instead, my mother and her neighborhood friends would gather mid-morning at one house or another and enjoy a cup of Maxwell House with a side of Winstons, while they chatted about their lives in the newly formed ‘burbs.

Back then the neighborhood was filled with traditional families—-men who went off to work and “housewives” who stayed home to care for the house, kids and dry cleaning. Coffee breaks were essential to staying sane. They gave women the chance to vent about the challenges of raising kids, balancing the family budget, and hundreds of other topics that took them at least an hour or two to discuss before extinguishing that last cigarette and rinsing the dregs from that Fiestaware coffee mug.

Today, the cute café has replaced the smoke-filled kitchen with the Formica table, and “specialty” coffees fill paper cups instead of “black.” But the need is still there—the opportunity for women to get together and share the latest events of their lives. The café is just the backdrop for these gatherings, a place where we can talk about the latest government scandals, outrageous Hollywood gossip, and of course, our families.

The only difference is we’ve replaced one addiction—-smoking-—with a new one—-chocolate. And wouldn’t you know it, there’s a new café in town that lures in customers who have those double addictions: Bittersweet, the Chocolate Café.
I met my coffee friends, Camille and Cindy, at Bittersweet last week, to see for myself if dreams really do come true.

Sure enough, this little slice of heaven, hidden away in the Navlet’s shopping center in Danville, knows What Women Want. Not only is the place adorably shabby chic, it’s filled with gourmet chocolates in all shapes and sizes and nationalities. A chocoholic can have anything from a Chocolate Thai Iced Tea to a cup of Hot Chocolate-Peanut Butter drink.

The three of us ordered up our favorite drinks and pastries, and settled into the comfy chairs to chat about, well, everything. Camille talked about her upcoming high school class reunion (I’m not allowed to say what year). Cindy shared picture of her grandchildren captured on her iPhone (cute, but not as cute as mine.) I entertained them with what I thought were hilarious stories about my brilliant grandchildren. And we still had time to cover such topics as pedicures, writing projects, weight-gain/loss, husbands, current books, the DMV, and afternoon plans, all in under an hour.

The morning coffee break has certainly changed over time, but one thing remains constant: the opportunity to spend time with good friends. The coffee and chocolate are just icing on the cupcake.


Blogger Julaina Kleist-Corwin said...

Hi Penny,

I'll have to find that Bittersweet Chocolate Cafe. If they have wireless access, I just might camp out there...chocolate and the internet, what else does one need these days?

July 8, 2009 at 12:38 PM  

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