The Mast-Head: The Wages of Brew

The lure of made-to-order coffee, for $1 if we take our own mug, is irresistible

Since the East Hampton Library placed a dandy touch-screen coffee machine on its circulation desk last month, some of the Star staff have spent a lot more time next door. That might not be the case with the enigma that is Russell Bennett, who takes regular breaks to sit in one of the comfortable leather chairs and flip through a book. For several of the rest of us, the lure of made-to-order coffee, for $1 if we take our own mug, is irresistible. 

On both Monday and Tuesday this week, I was able to hold out until about 3 p.m. Then, a ceramic cup in hand, I went next door to the library with my dollar bills. Conversation around the Starbucks-brand machine is light and, for me, a nice diversion from the day’s typing. Upon return, coming up with new ways to vex elected officials or write a mouth-watering description of a Saturday church barbecue is a whole lot easier — even after a half-caf, one of the coffee beast’s many options.

Mugs are never a problem around this office, or the library’s break room, as I found out. While there may never be a teaspoon in the upstairs kitchen silverware drawer, mugs we’ve got. We have so many, in fact, that earlier this year when I made a fine Manhattan clam chowder for a friend’s potluck birthday, I boxed up about two-dozen random ceramic mugs in which to serve it. I have not yet dropped by to pick up the box; its absence has made scarcely a dent in our office stash.

Dennis Fabiszak, who runs the library, told me that he applied to Starbucks for the machine after numerous requests from patrons. It dispenses chai, three roasts of coffee, and hot water for tea. Other than in the Long Island Collection area, where irreplaceable hoary town records of great value are kept, we can drink our drinks of choice anywhere in the library.

My East Hampton grandmother, Jeannette Edwards Rattray, for whom one wing of the library is named, used to spend long hours there researching her history books. The story goes that my father would sometimes be sent down from the house, which is just up the lane, to tap at the window and remind his mother of mealtimes. One wonders what heights of greatness she might have attained had she had access to a powerful brew as well.