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Coffee? No thanks.

Posted: March 23rd, 2018 | Bars & Happy Hours, Featured, Food & Drink | No Comments

By Dr. Ink

Due to some weird allergy in which I’m hit with flu-like symptoms for a couple of hours after taking several sips of coffee, I can count on one hand the times I’ve ever set foot inside a coffeehouse. Even if I did drink the stuff, loafing around in a roomful of hopelessly sober people adhered to their laptops isn’t my cup of joe.

But it’s different at Refill, a coffeehouse that serves beer and wine, and where people actually converse with each other — at least as they did on the outdoor patio during my happy hour visit.

Where caffeine and alcohol mix (Photos by Frank Sabatini Jr.)

Anchored at the base of the modern-industrial Mr. Robinson lofts in Hillcrest, the coffeehouse is bright and organic. It adjoins Trust Restaurant, though falls under different ownership. During happy hour (held only Friday through Sunday) canned beer, wines by the glass and mimosas are $5 each.

With a cold 12-ounce can of Ballast Point Mango Even Keel in my company, I initially started out at an inside table. The room was full. I was the only one drinking alcohol. And in usual coffeehouse culture, everyone appeared hypnotized by their laptops and phones while sipping caffeinated drinks, which are made here with beans from Bird Rock Coffee Roasters.

Ballast Point Mango Even Keel isn’t as fruity tasting as it smells.

When I moved onto the flora-adorned patio, I encountered the complete opposite. Everybody was drinking beer or wine. Some people were laughing, and others were engaged in passionate conversations. Topics I overheard spanned from racism and the virtues of patience to “if only I could have an hour to tell off Donald Trump,” as one woman blurted to her friend before carrying on further.

I felt at home.

So I ordered another beer, which offered a stronger mango aroma than flavor. But it was smooth and semi-sweet nonetheless.

Adding further comfort to my eavesdropping session, I ordered from the regular menu two slices of hearty, toasted bread slathered in crunchy “chef quality” peanut butter and organic blueberry jam. The cost was $5.50.

Toast with crunchy peanut butter and organic blueberry jam

Drinking beer while eating PB&J was a first for me. Surprisingly, it didn’t clash with the suds, although given the hefty girth of the bread slices, I couldn’t help but imagine washing them down with a tall glass of milk.

Whether solo or with a group of friends, I could actually hang out at Refill again while taking fuller advantage of the $5 booze offerings, which also include a few other local craft beers as well as Hamms Lager from Wisconsin and Anthem Cider from Oregon.

Wines of several varietals hail mostly from California and from a couple vineyards in France. They’re available also by the bottle for prices ranging between $17 and $20 — yet another tempting deal that can potentially shake up this caffeinated atmosphere.

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