Like most college students (except for a few lucky ones), coffee is an essential and necessary part of my life. I cannot imagine starting a day without a cup. Ever since 8th grade, I have wanted to inject caffeine into my blood. Since then, I’ve had a special relationship with coffee and have always preferred it over tea, although as a Turk, I was expected to like the latter more. Maybe this was why I adapted to US food culture much faster than I had expected; being surrounded with numerous coffee shops could somehow compensate for the lack of delicious Turkish food.
Yet, I soon realized that good coffee is not as easy to find as I thought it would be. I never liked Starbucks’s coffee when I was in Turkey (even though it was the to-go place for all of the cool kids), and it is no different in the US. New Haven’s Blue State hasn’t proven to be any better, either; it does not have the aroma that is so unique to coffee. And don’t even get me started about the Yale dining hall coffee; although I find myself drinking it on a daily basis, it’s only just bearable.
Another problem I have is the coffee culture of this country. Most people seem to just grab a cup to-go. Or, if they sit, they drink from a 16-ounce paper cup while working on a paper or rushing to finish a problem set. I think people need to take more time to enjoy some delicious coffee while having a good conversation, not see it merely as a stimulant.
One month during my freshman year, I decided to search for a more European-style coffee shop, a place in which I could sit for hours and enjoy some well-prepared coffee without feeling the rush of a typical busy Yale day. Luckily, I was not the only one looking for such a place. My friend Carolyn took me to the recently-opened place on Elm Street called Maison Mathis.
The first thing that caught my attention were the words printed on the window: “Slow down, you’re on Belgian time here.” For the sake of being as Belgian as we could, we decided to order a waffle to share, with two cappuccinos.
While waiting for our orders, I looked around, noticing the small details that made the place so clearly different from all the other coffee shops in town. It was very white and bright, with small marble tables, pristine walls and dainty chairs, which all put me in a relaxed mood.
Ten minutes later, our waffle and cappuccinos came. My cappuccino had a beautiful milk foam design. The waffle was a little more buttery than those I had tried before, making it all the more delicious. Even the whipped cream tasted homemade, a pleasant surprise from artificial products that I have come to expect. The European style just seemed to be doing everything better.
From then on, Maison Mathis has become a part of my routine. Whenever I feel depressed because of the weather (which is frequent here in New England), I find myself heading over to Elm Street from wherever I am. After I finish a long week of exams, I text my friends to meet there to indulge in an éclair. Whether it’s for the chevre omelets, the soups and salads or just the coffee, everything at Maison Mathis makes you feel good.
I wish the food culture here was more about enjoying your time with your food alone or with a friend in an unhurried manner. Maison Mathis is a great place for all of us to go back to the slow-ticking Belgian clock that our busy life style all too often makes us forget.
Location: 304 Elm Street, New Haven, CT
Hours of Operation: Mon-Sat: 8 am to 10 pm Sun: 8 am to 8 pm