The summer before last, I lived in Lubbock, TX and a good 80% of that time was spent in coffee shops. Yes, partly because I am in love with coffee, but mostly because I was in a new town and didn't know a soul aside from the 40-something year old Iranian man that had employed me to help establish his newly opened bistro. He was pleasant enough to work for, but we had very different preferences for how to spend our free time. So, I found myself claiming my space in one of the three local coffee shops.
J&B Coffee offered an atmosphere that made me feel most comfortable. The staff was welcoming and the customers were a variety of personalities. This shop, established in 1979, is located less than a mile from Texas Tech University so it is understandably populated by college students and their enormous backpacks as well as their professors, busy grading papers. Mixed in with the academics is an array of colorful characters. At any point in the day you will find small groups engulfed in deep conversation, people of any age with their nose in a book, that strange guy that just stares at everyone (a lot of coffee shops have these) and the regular mish-mash of eclectic individuals. As a stranger, I felt like just the people watching here was enough to satiate myself with the local culture and I was eventually enough of a regular that other regulars invited me to join their conversations. This, ladies and gentlemen, is coffee culture at its best!
The space itself does its best to fit as many people in as it can. The shop is split into two areas. The front area has packed in as many tables as is allowable and you better believe they fill up in the evenings. There is a back space that is sometimes used for music or special events. It is a bit quieter and less crowded, but that's not what I go to this shop for. I like having to share a table with that attractive red-head even if we don't say more than, "Can I sit here?" "Yeah. Sure.". There is outside seating for smokers, dog owners and that artist with the giant painting he feels the need to work on in a public space. Seriously though, props to that guy for having the guts to subject himself to criticism while painting a picture of a lighthouse.
J&B serves breakfast all day. ALL DAY. If you are a college student, you understand the beauty of this option. They keep it simple with bagels and sandwiches and I have enjoyed everything I've had. They also have an enticing selection of baked goods at all times including muffins, cakes and cinnamon rolls. If you get the chance, get the rosemary raspberry shortbread cookie. I can't even tell you how happy this cookie makes me.
The coffee itself has changed a little since the summer I lived there. J&B offers a menu with a dizzying amount of options. I'm a simple coffee drinker so I have yet to try any of their blended or sweet drinks, but they sell a ton of them so they are doing something right. Their wide variety of drip coffees comes from the Lubbock roaster, Day Break Coffee Roasters. Every day they offer three drip options including a dark, light and a flavored roast. They recently switched to Evocation Coffee Roasters from Amarillo for their espresso. The quality of their espresso drinks has definitely improved since. I had a breve latte last time I visited and had to take a moment to savor that delicious fatty goodness. The only downside I have encountered here is a lack of consistency in my lattes and espresso pulls. I have yet to have anything undrinkable, but there have been times when something in the process of making the drink just didn't go as it should. Has that ever stopped me from going back? Hell no. Will I always find myself back here when in Lubbock? Hell yes.