I'm in love: with a new coffee shop that just opened in my neighborhood. Really, I'm completely delighted -- far beyond what I'd think of as the range of "normal" responses to such a thing.
So, to explain. They've been working on the building for this place for a while -- rehabbing an older property, with a tantalizing sign that made it clear it would be a coffee shop eventually. Then finally last week we drove past and they were open. So today I went over there for the first time. It is amazingly great: cool old space, with heavily varnished wood floors, beamed ceiling, nice windows. Plenty of seating -- about 15 tables or so, plus two counters with bar stools. Great selection of coffees and tea, soy milk espresso drinks available, pastries and lunch food even. Friendly alterna-girl working the counter. The chairs are actually comfortably padded without being armchairs. Not too cold, not too dark, not too bright. Just perfect. They were playing the Cure. How could it be any better?? Plus it's only 4 minutes from our house.
The only other coffee shop in our neighborhood has turned into really more of a bar -- a problem with a lot of the independent cafes in this city. I know that's how they make their money, but still. The other one near us is totally bar-like from 4:00 on as the happy hour crowd comes in. Plus they have TVs over the counter now, and loud music. It's fine if you're going to socialize (although sometimes too loud even for that) but impossible for working in.
So that means a 10-minute drive to another neighborhood, where there are 2 Starbucks that I like OK, but their seating is pretty limited and many's the time I've gone over there at 3:00 and all the chairs are taken by other people studying/working. There's a local chain coffee place I like to work at, but it too has very limited seating -- and a heavy student-type crowd. So again, if they're full then you're really out of luck, since there's not much turnover for the chairs.
There are 4 or 5 other non-chain cafes in the same general area -- several of which I really like for social coffees, but not so much for working in. The cool Greek place is my favorite for a night out -- great jukebox, weird international magazines to flip through, eccentric old guys playing checkers -- but it's dark and full of smoke which is too much to deal with while grading papers. There's the yuppifying boho place which used to be mellow and has gotten increasingly overpriced and fascistic over the years. OK but I'm not happy supporting their bad attitudes -- and they're very anti-readers, anti-studiers in their quest for profit. An arty place that tends to be really smoky. (Sure, there's supposedly a non-smoking section, but it's sharing the same air space as the smokers.) A super yuppy place I really dislike.
So to have a fabulous new cafe to work in that is so close to my house really brightens up my world. I love to work at coffee shops and haven't done as much of that as I would like to lately -- partly just because of the lack of a really inspiring place to go.
I've found my second home. And it's beautiful and groovy and not very crowded in the mid-late afternoon, which is my primo cafe time. Let's hope it stays that way. (Though I'm wishing them massive crowded success in the early mornings so as to keep them in business...)