by Heidi Lee

I’m not sure if it was the slightly confused look on my face as I read the menu at Village Coffee Roastery for the first time, or my outright admission that I am a bit of a coffee novice (my money’s on the latter), but Lisa Stroud took one look at me and explained the science of picking the perfect coffee in terms I could understand. It’s as if she looked into my soul, thought “Geez, you look really dehydrated,” and decided that a wine-analogy would be most appropriate in my case.

Seriously though–Lisa poured me a cup of Hara, and with my first sip, I realized that the perfect cup of coffee truly is as complex as good wine, perhaps even more. This cup, full of buttery undertones and just the right amount of smoky oak was my “coffee-Chardonnay,” and Lisa was my coffee-savior.

Village Coffee Roastery is one of those places where everyone that walks through the door is “Norm” from Cheers and she’s “Coach” behind the bar, except instead of dolling out beer and sarcasm, she’s serving up gorgeous coffee-drinks and lively conversation. Lisa Stroud is quite the charmer. Her great, positive energy probably stems from the fact that she’s absolutely passionate about what she does for a living, and that passion and excellence certainly translates to her superior product. Lisa and her team use a scientifically developed, very specific roasting process that is performed in only 12 coffee roasteries in the world. This ain’t no second-rate coffee shop.

I could sit and talk with Lisa for hours, and in fact, I did just that. I planted myself on a barstool (how perfect) next to a very good friend of hers, and the topic of conversation naturally turned to coffee and food.  As we laughed, sipped our drinks, and ate some soup, I asked her friend how they’d met.  Her reply didn’t surprise me at all: “Oh, I was just a customer sitting here at the bar and we got to talking and now we’re the best of friends.”  See?  I told you she was charming.

From the time I arrived until my departure, a steady stream of customers came through the door itching for their daily caffeine fix and a little bit of Lisa. She danced through her tasks with grace, a bar towel, and a smile. Conversation never ceased and folks were happy. Even the creepy, Dementor-like scream of the Espresso machine didn’t disrupt the cheerful ebb and flow of conversation; however, it may disrupt my dreams tonight (Haaaaaaaaarrrrryyyyyyyyy).

Finally, I broached the subject of coffee snobbery. I figured that if they existed in the wine-world, they probably existed in the coffee-world. You could almost see the hairs on the back of Lisa’s neck come to attention. Apparently the issue isn’t necessarily with those who drink the coffee, it’s with those who make it, and Lisa finds this snobbery outrageous. How many of us pay attention to the fact that a vanilla latte topped with caramel syrup is technically called a caramel macchiato, and why should we? Trust me when I tell you that at Village Coffee Roastery, the staff loves the customers whether they know their ‘macchiatos’ or not.

Lisa attributes her success to loving her job and keeping a good sense of humor. Whether she’s tooling around town on her motorcycle, playing with her dogs, seeking out some funky new joint for dinner, or making you the best darn drink you’ve ever had, Lisa is passionate about it all–Oh, and she’s a whole latte fun!

Man, I have to lay-off the caffeine.