Opening in 1994, the 1369 Coffeehouse (known to most of us simply as “1369”) is rather emblematic of a certain classic breed of gathering place. 1369 is a cafe from before espresso was this sort of fetishistic status commodity, when a coffee shop was primarily about having a place to linger that wasn’t home or work, and it just happened to sell coffee and snacks as something to accompany an afternoon of reading a book or talking with friends.
1369 has been a constant in my life ever since I put roots in this city in the mid-90s. I have friends who have slung coffee here, and known all manner of writers, web developers, and students who might as well call this their real office. I’ve done my own share of grad school homework here, and used it to meet friends and acquaintances. And always, in the background, there is the low hum of other patrons, of artists sharing their creative frustrations, activists discussing politics, and people in the neighborhood gossiping about their family and friends.
It is the chatty, quirky heart of Cambridge, a city that prides itself as the offbeat, bohemian partner to the more buttoned-down Boston; and if I ever feel the need to be alone in the middle of people, then there are few finer ways of experiencing that than an idle afternoon here with a cup of coffee and a good book.