|8th Street: Dawson & Taylor is at the green awning on the left/Randy Stapilus|
This sounds minor and it is minor, probably, but there seems a need to weigh in on the Otter coffee battle. (As though Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter doesn't have enough battles to deal with at the moment.)
The story, which won't be recounted in full here (you can get a good rundown from Kevin Richert at the Idaho Statesman) essentially is that. Otter's current office, during Statehouse remodeling, is located in an old post office building at the corner of 8th and Bannock streets in downtown Boise. Periodically he slips out for a cup of coffee. Mostly, that has been at Dawson & Taylor, a Boise-owned coffee shop roughly catty-corner from his office. more recently, though, he has been frequenting its' across-the-street competitor, Thomas Hammer, which is based in Spokane. One day recently, Otter was accosted by Dawson's proprietor, who chewed him out, using some non-broadcastable language in the process, for not contributing to local business. (The proprietor later apologized.)
Putting aside the Miss Manners elements of this, there's something interesting about the two coffee shops. As it happens, I know them both fairly well, as a customer, and like them both. Both are friendly places that serve good coffee, and both have good free wi-fi (two key considerations). But as shops they're quite different.
Dawson's - which I've described as my Boise regional office when in town - is funky, informal, artsy, often noisy and seems to draw shifting groups of regulars. Hammer is quieter, simpler, more chrome-and-glass, more uptown, and draws a different clientele - though defining the difference is a subtle matter. There's some temptation to call Dawson's the Democratic coffee place and Hammer the Republican - especially after the Otter incident - but too many people I've seen in both break the types. I've had coffee with plenty of both kinds of party people (as well as non-party people) in both places, up to and including the last visit. But . . . there's a difference, somewhere, between Dawson's people and Hammer people. My guess is that people who have frequented both places can discern a difference, and there's a socio-political analysis here.
Maybe Otter can help. Maybe I need another couple cups of coffee.
ALSO There's this from the Boise Picayune, which extends the story a little further.