La Mano Coffee Bar

JRS

I guess some things will always attract potential Deaf customers, and the stylized Indian-style bohemian hand lured me in to this tiny coffee shop conveniently located by the Takoma metro. The location's really exciting by itself - it's the perfect place to fuel up and do some typing in the morning, or meet up with friends and get jittery before you go out and, well, jitter, or move on to dinner at a local restaurant.

The decor is highly visual and even a little tactile. Today they're highlighting the artwork of Mei Mei Chang, who has not only put some gorgeous mixed media artwork and cards out for sale but also extended the display to the counter by means of a very tactile tape which spells out geometric shapes and the artist's name on the walls. At the moment I'm enjoying running one hand over a cool marble counter which contrasts to a sort of matte texture on the tape. Others have too, clearly.

This is my fourth or fifth time here. The first, my barista could sign and performed with Imagination Stage in Bethesda, which at one point was well-known for working comfortably with the Deaf community. I had a delicious hot chocolate and homemade gluten-free quiche. This time I'm on my way to work so I just ordered their iced latte, and I had to sit down to enjoy it - very creamy and tasty. It almost feels Continental. So on the food and drink front, full marks.

The service is also old-school polite, quick, and smiling. I mentioned the signing barista; today's barista couldn't sign but was highly comfortable in gesture and we went through the usual script pretty smoothly. Again, kind of a classy European feel; most places I visited in Europe were used to a highly diverse clientele from different countries with various linguistic skills, so this kind of nonverbal communication felt more common than in America. It was nice to just order and move into my seat and drink my caffeinated blob of ecstasy.

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