“In Search of a Good Cup of Coffee”


I’ve been in Texas for eight months now, and I’ve learned quite a lot about the food culture here. If I want good barbecue, the best sour cream enchiladas in town, or an extra-large portion of anything, I know where to go. Every restaurant in town offers chicken-fried steak and tea so sweet that my mouth is puckering right now just thinking about it. Hot and spicy, fried and greasy, served with a smile and a slice of pecan pie. But finding a good cup of coffee? Good luck.


There are two Starbucks in my city. Now, some of you might think that’s a lot in such a wee-bitty town, but others will wonder how I can survive with such paucity—especially since I’m originally from the Seattle-Tacoma area where you can’t drive a half-mile without coming across some sort of espresso stand or café. When I’ve ordered lattes in one of the few non-chain places that offer something besides plain brewed coffee, I’ve had servers say Wow, that’s complicated! and Wait, let me write that down… Such comments don’t inspire much hope that I’ll end up with a great cup of coffee. So, more often than I care to admit, I load my two puppies in the car and we drive the half-hour round trip to the nearest Starbucks where I get my triple venti soy latte and the dogs get their puppuccinos.

On my lap, checking out the menu. He likes the sausage breakfast sandwich best

On my lap, checking out the menu. He likes the sausage breakfast sandwich best


You’re right…I could get a fancy espresso machine and brew my own coffee, but the three of us enjoy our regular outings. Dexter, our Brussels Griffon, will wake out of a sound sleep in his car seat and sit up when I’m about a block from the café (admittedly, he’s just as familiar with several other fast food restaurants in town). Brigh, our new terror-terrier mix, is quickly learning the joys of the drive-thru window.

Dexter at Starbucks

Dexter at Starbucks

After too many years without a dog of my own, I appreciate the companionship these puppies provide. Coffee, a scone, and two furry bodies waiting for their share. What a perfect way to start the day.


I’ve always been a dog lover, and writing Blindsidedblindsided was fun because of the added canine connection. Both of my characters share their lives with dogs. Lenae McIntyre has her service animal, Baxter, and Cara Bradley is puppy walking (reluctantly at first) Pickwick. Lenae relies on Baxter for more than guidance—his genuine friendship is comforting after the betrayal of a less-than-honest girlfriend. Pickwick offers Cara the warmth and company she craves. The uncomplicated, dependable relationships with the animals help Lenae and Cara connect with each other. Slowly, they learn that a human relationship can offer trust as well—and so much more.


I had fun writing about Cara’s frustration as she worked with her energetic puppy, but she’s getting some payback. Now I’m dealing with the reality instead of the fiction of having a puppy in the house. And like Cara, I’m loving every chewed-sneaker, ignored-command-to-sit, trip-to-Starbucks minute of it. Yes, I could roast some beans and brew a gourmet cup at home, but it’s about more than coffee. It’s about a shared ritual, whether with humans or animals. And it’s worth the drive.

Brigh sleeping on the way home

Brigh sleeping on the way home


For a copy of my own fusion chicken-fried steak recipe, check out my story “East Meets West” in the upcoming anthology All You Can Eat from YLVA. For more about my experiences in Texas, visit my blog at http://kariswalsh.wordpress.com/.

20 Responses to ““In Search of a Good Cup of Coffee””

  1. 1 Connie July 31, 2014 at 9:58 AM

    Ah Karis, your true love of animals is one of the many things I love about your writing & you as a person & friend. Keep up the good work & the search for a better coffee in Texas. We are glad you are here. ❤


  2. 3 missourivaun July 31, 2014 at 10:09 AM

    I always appreciate a good cup of coffee and I appreciate your search for one 🙂 This was a fun read!


  3. 8 S.A. July 31, 2014 at 1:49 PM

    Glad to hear you’re adjusting to your new digs down there; have to say, I’m still biased to the good ol’ PNW. 🙂 I’ve enjoyed your other books; as a fellow dog-person, I’m particularly looking forward to reading this new one. (And who knows, maybe if you hit the local shops often enough, the baristas will stop being intimated by the “complicated” coffee orders…)


  4. 10 Erin Saluta July 31, 2014 at 4:44 PM

    I miss sweet tea! That is something on can not find outside of the South. Loved the idea of taking the pups through the drive through. I wonder how well it would work with cats…Can’t wait to read Blindsided!


  5. 12 Sheri Campbell July 31, 2014 at 5:37 PM

    Good to see this post and to know Blindsided is done. Happy about the fun with the pups, what about the goats? I found a new friend/goat rescue lade. We met at the Feed Store where she was picking up mama goat milk for the new twins in her car. Happy you have found a Starbucks near. Enjoy this blog.


    • 13 kariswalsh July 31, 2014 at 6:51 PM

      Hi Sheri! The goats are loving the sunshine. Kismet got to have an adventure when she went to Goodfellow AFB for the library’s summer reading program 🙂 Awesome about the goat rescue woman — I admire anyone who gives their time and energy to animal rescue.


  6. 14 peabody1peabody July 31, 2014 at 7:51 PM

    I got an advanced copy of Blindsided and loved it so much I read it twice. Growing up, my older sister’s high school best friend Leslie was blind and had a wonderful Golden Retriever service dog… he was amazing. Leslie also played guitar (and inspired me to do so). All of Leslie’s teachers tried to discourage her from playing, fearing it would interfere with hear ability to read. Thank goodness she ignored that advice.


    • 15 kariswalsh July 31, 2014 at 10:04 PM

      I’m so happy to hear that you loved Blindsided, peabody!! I enjoyed writing it. The connection between humans and service animals is wonderful to witness, and I liked exploring that relationship in the book. I’m surprised that teachers would discourage someone from pursuing music — I agree that it’s a good thing she didn’t listen to them!


  7. 16 Devlyn July 31, 2014 at 9:01 PM

    Glad you have your furry friends to keep you company on your drive to Starbucks. We used to have a Starbucks here in Adelaide but it went bust. Mind you we can get a decent coffee at just about any food shop so we aren’t too deprived.


    • 17 kariswalsh July 31, 2014 at 10:06 PM

      I’m trying to explore options besides Starbucks, but they’re limited here 🙂 We luckily have a great cafe at the local Hastings — I spend a lot of time (and money) there on books and coffee!


  8. 18 Lisa T. August 2, 2014 at 8:57 PM

    I certainly understand going the distance for good coffee. I’m looking forward to reading Blindsided, perhaps while enjoying a latte. 🙂


  1. 1 Did you catch this? | Women and Words Trackback on August 9, 2014 at 12:34 PM

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