Monthly Archives: July 2017

Red Emma’s

So a guy walks into a coffeehouse…and suddenly coffee is far from his mind as his eyes are suddenly overwhelmed by the sight of bookshelf after glorious bookshelf. Last time I wrote here, I promised you something revolutionary, and Red Emma’s is a coffeehouse that lives up to the task. Named for famed anarchist Emma Goldman, this space is a safe haven for anyone on the radical left.

Radical. They say that word over and over again on their website, proud of Red Emma’s reputation as a gathering space for the radical left of Baltimore since it first opened in 2004. As to my political leanings, I’m a Bull-Moose Progressive like the Roosevelts. Old left or radical center, it’s hard to pin down political nomenclature, but one thing is for sure; this place welcomes everyone. They say that there’s no use radicalizing the already radicalized, so they want to reach out to preach to people who are not yet in the choir of resistance.

Red Emma’s is a worker’s collective. Everybody who is part of the collective owns an equal share of the business. They are against bosses and hierarchies, with decisions made by consensus, kind of in the vein of the anarcho-syndicalists. Indeed, I got ten percent off of my book purchase because of my union membership! It’s a fully vegan establishment as well, which is good news given the large vegan community that has always existed among the far left. Indeed, there’s a lot of evidence to show that abandoning meat would be a good way of fighting global warming and democratizing the world’s food. I’ll stick to my burgers and just turn off the lights.

So how’s the coffee anyhow? As bitter as October in Russia. Just kidding. It went down as smooth as a well-written manifesto. Yes, that was corny as hell, but forgive me. Their brand of coffee┬áis called Thread Coffee. It’s transparently-traded and roasted on-site by the collective. I had the Guatemalan (I think) house-blend and I must say it was really well-balanced. Most South American coffees seem rather mellow acid-wise, but this one was especially buttery-feeling. Really a joy. Almost as good as St. Thomas. It never fails to show when there’s an expert roaster among the staff.

My advice to people looking to check it out is this: don’t be afraid of the unknown. I know, some of you will walk in and be a bit intimidated by a revolution in progress. Understand that this one is under the guidance of some genuinely good people. The energy here is positive, and this group is trying to make a difference in their community in a way that is long overdue. Bringing people together for conversation and free discussion of the issues of the day is, in fact, what the first coffeehouses in Europe were all about. The cities became the crucibles of change that would result in the flowering of democracy and civil rights, and the coffeehouses were the loci of this cauldron of thought. If we are to say that coffeehouse “culture” is indeed “about” something, then human dialogue and free expression goes to the core of it. When you’re here, imagine that you’re on the streets of Paris as the intellectual mix of the Age of Enlightnment was taking shape. You’ll find that this thought comes mighty easily. An interesting question then: can a place be called revolutionary if it is, at its heart, merely a return to form?



the street…


the gathering space…


the bookstore…


the literature…

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Posted by on July 21, 2017 in Uncategorized