New gathering spot is becoming the place where everyone knows your name

Sarah Aldrich stands ready and waiting with a smile at Anchor Books and Coffee in Clinton.

CLINTON — Drew likes a double shot latte with just a “scum” of foam.

Sherryl likes her 16-ounce decaf latte with half soy, half nonfat milk and some “velvet” foam.

Wanda, however, hates foam, thank you very much.

These are the coffee-drink accommodations into which customers are already settled at Anchor Books and Coffee on Highway 525 in Clinton. Although the used bookstore exchange and cafe only opened in April, the “Wall of Fame,” where customers’ drinks are listed exactly as they like them, is growing apace.

“Bruce is quite exceptional at that,” barista Sarah Aldrich said of her boss, co-owner Bruce Didier, who opened the shop with his wife Trish.

“He’ll see a car pulling in and will start working on that person’s drink before they’re even in the door,” she added.

If the steady influx of brand-new customers who stopped by the Anchor one recent Thursday afternoon is any indication, the Wall of Fame will have to continue on a second wall. Aldrich, who has been working for the Didiers since the café opened, welcomed everyone with a smile and kind word. Folks were curious, they said, and each one mentioned noticing the place on their way either to or from the ferry. Everyone wanted to know more about the place and said they’d be back.

Anchor Books and Coffee is about a half mile up the highway from the ferry dock on the south side between Lincoln Computers and Wild Birds Unlimited and is close to a bus stop. The café features coffee from Mukilteo Roasters and a wide variety of teas from the Island Tea Company. It also has Whidbey Island Ice Cream, Whidbey Pies, Chocolates By George, Sweet Mona’s famous dark chocolate sea salt caramels and coffee toffee and a variety of baked goods, some of which are baked on the premises.

“Trish comes by in the morning on the way to school and after school,” said Bruce Didier of his Coupeville Elementary School teacher wife.

“She bakes some of our muffins and brownies, and we bake cookies as needed during the day, and also offer pie from Whidbey Pies that we bake fresh,” he added.

Presently, an elderly gentlemen was sneaking a small piece of pie. He sipped a whipped cream topped beverage.

“Do you want whipped cream on your pie, Charles?” Aldrich called out to him from behind the counter.

There was a pause.

“Yes,” said Charles, “but don’t tell my wife.”

It was easy to see why Chuck is already a familiar face at the pleasant Anchor. The place itself is open and airy with sunny east light in the morning and a line of windows across the north side of the cafe, where comfy chairs and plenty of tables are available to book browsers, sippers and WiFi users. A soothing sage green colors the walls surrounding the shelves that house a variety of used books. Book sections include about 7,000 titles of everything from contemporary culture, parenting and cooking, to poetry, fiction, history, gardening, humor and paranormal romance. The Anchor also offers several titles by local authors in its spirit of supporting island artisans.

The space is comfortable with several areas to read and nourish, including a back room with couches and a gas fireplace, as well as a cozy little reading library for children to browse and entertain themselves. Didier said parents have been very grateful for that.

“One mother said she was so happy she wanted to cry, and has been back several times,” Didier said.

But beyond being a great place to hang out, the book exchange offers customers a way to recycle their high-quality used books.

“We take books in readable condition,” said Didier.

“Any subject, any genre, but no textbooks, periodicals, manuals or technical books.”

Generally paperbacks are priced at 50 percent of the cover price and hardcovers at 30 percent. The store offers a trade credit of 25 percent for paperbacks and 15 percent for hardcover books. Trade credits can be used for up to 50 percent of one’s book purchase.

In addition to books, island-themed prints are available and include watercolors by Perry Woodfin of Coupeville, photographs by Rick Lawler of Oak Harbor, the Island Farm Tour card series, and aerial and underwater photographic cards by Veronica Van Allworden.

“We also have a selection of whimsical Whidbey Island signs by the Sign Lady of Freeland, Nora Harrell,” Didier noted.

Didier said some longtime Clintonites remember the place when it was The Coffee Klatch years ago and are coming back to their old haunt to enjoy a hot cup there again. The owners also offer the premises to local groups for poetry slams, meetings and workshops.

But on this afternoon, the Anchor is peaceful.

Aldrich brings Charles his forbidden cream-topped slice and a newspaper. She then turns her attention to another new customer who enters the shop and gives them her biggest smile.

Anchor Books and Coffee is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days per week. Visit www.anchorbooksandcoffee.com or call 341-3343 for more information.