I don’t drink coffee. Or lattes, cappuccinos and other warm caffeinated beverages with fancy names.
But, that didn’t stop me from joining Arcadia’s Brew Crew at The Last Chapter Coffee House once a week to catch up on gossip and learn a few tricks of the trade.
The Brew Crew is a group of DeSoto County residents who get together to drink coffee, steal bacon off each other’s plates, collect change for the school district and run through a slew of topics until breakfast turns into lunch. Then, they literally go to lunch together. They celebrate what so many people have lost in today’s age — face-to-face personal relationships and spending money at a local business on a regular basis.
Luke Wilson, the Arcadian’s cartoonist and columnist, began the Brew Crew with Kenneth Carlton.
“We were chatting on Facebook how we ought to come to town and chat sometime,” Wilson said. “We thought it’d be more fun in person. We set a date, and a couple of other people got in on it.”
In October 2011, Carlton and Wilson met with two other people for breakfast at The Last Chapter Coffee House. The next week, more people showed up. These days, it’s not surprising if 30 to 40 people are talking, laughing and sipping coffee on Wednesday mornings at the coffee shop in downtown Arcadia.
“Kenneth suggested that, the Brew Crew. A lot of people say you should be meeting at a bar if you’re going to call it that. But, it’s about coffee brewing. And, it’s always a lot of fun, so we’re having a ‘brew haha’ down there,” Wilson said with a wink.
Lately, political candidates will show up and say hello to the Crew.
“A few others we see only at campaign time, at election time. Some will make one appearance and think that’s bought them all these votes,” Wilson said.
The Crew also gets together for Christmas parties, barbecues and fundraisers. On occasion, they will host a raffle. Wilson said that no one really wants the item, but they like to compete against each other to see who will win it while raising money for a good cause.
The Brew Crew gatherings became so popular, they started a Friday group known as Deja Brew.
“After a couple of years, we enjoyed it so much that we said we need to do this more often. So we started meeting Fridays all morning long. Same folks but like a smaller version of the Wednesday group,” Wilson said.
On the few times I’ve attended, I sat down with a smoothie and listened to the gossip, opinions, history, lessons and life talks of those around me. Usually, I don’t say much because I’m still too new to offer anything. I just grin and listen.
In one hour alone, topics ranged from an annual citywide toenail chewing contest to who passed away over the week to how to properly eat a mango. One gentleman brought in mangoes and was allowing people to take them home. He told me to grab one, too, and said I needed to eat it in the bathtub because mangoes can be juicy. He added that I needed to make sure I wasn’t allergic because it’s related to poison ivy.
I thought he was pulling my leg. But, as he continued to show concern, I realized he was telling the truth. He honestly wanted me to eat it without my lips touching the skin so they wouldn’t swell up like a fish. He also said to eat it chilled and that it’s tasty in ice cream or salsa. Last Friday, we mostly discussed the Arcadian’s Political Forum with the primary election candidates, and who we believed “won” each race’s question-and-answer session.
Normally, a group like that is not my cup of tea, no pun intended. But, there’s something about the friendliness and vitality of the people of Arcadia that keeps drawing me back to Brew Crew. While I may not drink coffee, I am enjoying the stories (both true and embellished) and advice of the people who have learned the art and benefits of friendship, communication and small-town community.