I'm currently lounging in my favorite coffee shop in Fargo, and also the world. I'm exuberantly over-caffeinated, but I certainly couldn't be more content. The past year has brought me many places, but the majority of my time has been spent here overindulging in coffee. I generally pretend I'm getting work done, and chat with other regulars who sip coffee and do the same. Many days I start the day on 0% energy and motivation. The coffee provides 50%, and the remaining half is gathered from the people in the coffee shop. I fill up with enough of that energy and motivation to hopefully last me the remainder of the day. I have a daily goal to meet someone new every day - most of which have been from here. Sometimes when I don't have a direct 'in' or mutual friend, I have to use the line, 'I try to meet someone new every day, hi, I'm Nick.' This works in Fargo, and a few other places, but pretty much just Fargo. I tried a similar thing in NY and nearly got stabbed. Not really, but they told me to get out of their face. Outside of traveling, and with the exception of Sundays, this coffee shop has become a common daily routine.

20Below Coffee Co's first birthday is rapidly approaching, and I couldn't be more ecstatic for them. In talking to the owners, the primary goal of the shop was to bring the community together, and contribute to the exponential growth Fargo seems to be experiencing these past couple of years. 

The coffee roasters have certainly achieved this, and much more. It has dramatically impacted so many individuals in the community, whether it be private events, or just purely the conversational atmosphere that it presents. It seems to have become the haven for business meetings of all sorts, catchup chats, and even college classes (thanks, Jeff Knight). Personally, 20below Coffee has actually altered my life for the better. I've formed lifetime relationships, acquired a taste for real coffee, and furthered my developing career in oh-so-many ways.

So first. Coffee. I've never been much of a coffee connoisseur, but 20below taught me that the substance can be sought after mainly for the taste, and not for the caffeine kick. I actually hate what coffee does to my body, generally. It leaves my mind awake, but my body asleep and unable to do much. Since developing more of an addiction to it, the effects are not nearly as severe, but my piano students definitely know how much coffee I've had before a lesson. I've learned what coffee blends I like, and how they are best prepared. I've learned about espresso, and that I rather enjoy it chased with a bit of sparkling water. If I were to catalog exactly how much of my money 20below has taken from me, I'm not sure what I'd do - but I certainly don't regret it in the slightest.

As far as relationships go, 20below has been the instigator of most of my current friendships downtown. I never lived a 'downtown' lifestyle until I started going to 20below. I had done my reading, editing, and anything else at Dunn Brothers on 25th. It was quite the distance, as I live in way north Fargo. I had heard the buzz of a new coffee shop opening downtown, so I cheated on Dunn Bro's to check it out, and I think I've been back to Dunn Bro's once in the past year? Through 20below I've gained so many connections, started working at the prairie den, and even opened my own studio downtown. Anyone I know downtown can be traced back to the coffee shop - since it was, and still somewhat is, my office. 

I've been lucky enough to play a couple of music gigs at the shop, as well, which I'm very thankful for having been given the opportunity. Shameless plug: I'm playing Friday, April 1st at 6, so please come. I've also had a display of my photography in the shop, which has given me some wonderful exposure.

Other mentionables the shop has been used for... A couple of successful dates (clearly not ALL that successful), client meetings, bible studies, stalling productivity, people watching, philosophical conversations with strangers, lunch breaks, coffee, coffee, coffee, and espresso.

I can always enter 20below with the confidence that I will know at least all the baristas, and usually half of the current patrons - this is always a pick-me-up when experiencing the darkest of moods. Not including the baristas, I currently know 8 people here. All except 1 I would never have known without the shop. All have served me with wonderful conversations on multiple occasions. I've realized that everyone has a 'specialty' of some sort. When I meet someone here, my internal thought is 'tell me a lot about something I know nothing about'. Yesterday I learned quite a bit about the history of JRR Tolkien's family, an LGBTQ perspective on genderless bathrooms, and the Japanese word for nostalgia. I also met a local artist who helped me with my recent endeavor to attempt to paint. Today I met a pastor, and hopefully we'll enter a meaningful conversation soon.

So...thank you 20below and all you've done for my life - and for many others in the community.