What makes a great coffee shop? Is it the quality of the coffee? Is it the pricing, or the friendliness of the baristas? We are inclined to favor the local shops we frequent (I am certainly guilty of that), but what actually makes for a good coffee shop experience? Below, I’ve included a few of my “essentials” in the form of a checklist. Use this to assess your local favorites or make a decision while travelling.
[ ] Good coffee matters most. Why leave your house for a cup of standard Nescafe? Why pay to drink Nescafe in public?
[ ] Pricing is also important. Recently, my local shop upped their American prices from $3.25 to $4.25. That is too dang high for a cup of hot bean water. I like to use this rule of thumb (applies to 12oz pours): $2-$3.50 for a drip coffee, $3-$4 for espresso drinks, and $4-$6 for “specialty” brewing, like pour-overs and cold brew.
[ ] You should be able to sit down. We love our favorite coffee shops for a reason. Odds are, other people are also privy to those reasons. However, some shops may reach a breaking point: they become so popular that you cannot find a seat. If your local shop has hit this precipice, start looking elsewhere; nobody wants to sip coffee while people stand around willing you to get up.
[ ] It should have the atmosphere you want. Nobody wants to be that pair having a heated political discussion in a shop full of people working on laptops. Similarly, you don’t want to hunker down with a Derrida text when a screaming child is just a few tables over.
[ ] It should have the proper amenities. Do you go to shops to read? Find a place with big, comfortable couches or armchairs. Do you go to do work? The shop should have free WiFi, ample desk space, and outlets scattered throughout.