10 February 2009

Caffé Piccolo Paradiso


Yesterday I read an article in the Wall Street Journal that talked about Starbucks' new campaign to reposition itself in the market as a "Common Joe." They want people to know that most of their coffee drinks are not over $4. Okay, but while Starbucks is one of my common haunts, all I can think is, “What a boring ad campaign!” and yet in another sense, “How true!” It is how very common Starbucks has become that is both their strength and their weakness.

Starbucks is convenient but far from unique or edgy these days. There are at least three outlets within a couple of miles of my home so they are on the way to everywhere. I do stop in often, probably more often than I should, for what is actually a rather common cup of coffee or tea. When I want something special I go elsewhere.


One of my favorite stops for something special is Caffé Piccolo Paradiso in downtown Camas. The atmosphere in the café is anything but common. It is more like a trip to the romantic Italian countryside. Italian music plays in the background and warm conversation seems to fill the air. The sunny décor brightens up even a typically gray winter’s day in the Pacific Northwest and a cup of their flavorful Caffé Umbria coffee sipped at one of the inviting tables warms the soul. Here one is invited to linger and dream. A map of Italy is hung over a long table above a collection of Italian games. A selection of Italian wines is arranged on a tray nearby.


Or choose one of the quality used books for sale on a shelf in the back and lose yourself in a good story as you sip a cup of tea. The book selection includes a variety of classics and recent best sellers. Then again you can always just sit at a small table in the front window and watch the traffic come and go as you contemplate the collection of interesting photos and objects scattered around the café.


Coffee drinks are beautifully presented at Piccolo Paradiso. I've had lattes with hearts and hurricanes floating in the foam. And even though they are far from common a 16 oz. Caffé Latte is priced at only $3.10. This morning, however, I ordered a Shot in the Dark, a cup of hot coffee with a shot of espresso poured over top, served in a Caffé Umbria cup with cream from an Italian ceramic cream pitcher. With it I sampled a collection of little Italian cookies and looked over the local events posted at the front.

Piccolo Paradiso also offers a small selection of pastries including croissants and scones, frosted biscotti and pizzelles. They carry some sandwiches, desserts and Italian products too. Besides coffee drinks they offer Italian sodas and wine by the glass.

All in all Caffé Piccolo Paradiso is a delightful place to stop for a good cup of coffee. It's also a nice place to take a friend for a glass of wine and some good conversation. It is comfortable and welcoming and a step beyond the common din of the ordinary.

On the way out I noticed hearts playfully strung across the front door spelling "L-O-V-E" and this quote from Robert Louis Stevenson inscribed on the front window.


I had to smile! Not only does the coffee at Caffé Piccolo Paradiso give me a lift but just stopping by for a short break can change my outlook on the day. It adds a little poetry to the prose of daily life.

7 comments:

Bunny said...

It looks and sounds like a very nice place to be.

Cathy said...

Your coffee shop sounds like a friendly and comfortable place to stop for your daily coffee.

Robin Sue said...

What a nice "tour" of this cafe. It makes me want to get on a plane and go there! I like the little off the beaten path type places the best. SB is OK but give me the unique any day.

Grace said...

ah, ambiance. 'tis something starbucks will never possess. :)

Theresa said...

When can we go?

Nicisme said...

What a great place to go to, that coffee looks so inviting!

Anonymous said...

I have never forgotten this post and finally had a chance to visit the coffee shop this last weekend with my husband (we were in WA for a conference.) It was lovely!

TM