Anatomy of a Good Coffee House

When visiting an unfamiliar city, many people have found the GPS on their cell phone and the local coffee house to be their handiest tools in insuring the fulfillment of the purposes for their visit. While the GPS helps one navigate through the unknown streets and get from Point A to Point B most efficiently, the local coffee shop provides a temporary space to think and work, to connect with the world of information on the internet, and to stay in touch with the folks in the office back home.

With cafe shops as varied and diverse as the personalities of their owners, what makes a great coffee house? According to Starbuck’s, the country’s most well-branded gathering place, the answer might be great coffee in comfortable surroundings served by friendly, attentive staff and produced by a company that cares about our world. The stated mission of Starbuck’s is “to inspire and nurture the human spirit-one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at at time.” On their website, the company states that “we’re passionate about ethically savoring the finest coffee beans, roasting them with great care and improving the lives of the people who grow them.” They get it: it’s about human connection. It’s about enjoyment at the speed of life-sometimes slow and savored, sometimes faster. Always full of humanity.

First of all, quality is king. A good cafe must have great coffee and good pastries. A good cafe also would have a variety of brews, and would offer espresso, cappuccino, and machiatto. It might also have a special house recipe that is uniquely their own and would be a favorite of the local crowd. A good variety of beans and blends, certainly the familiar Arabica or Robusta, but also others, like Brazilian or Columbian beans would be a necessity.

Second to a good cup of joe would be the ambiance of the place. A good coffee house should have a relaxed, homey feel to it, with comfortable seating places and arrangements that invite both casual conversation between friends, and that also provides a relaxed atmosphere for a business meeting. A good working environment is paramount and that would require free wifi with ample connections and small tables ideal for use as a temporary second office.

Lastly, a really good cafe would offer some kind of additional outdoor seating, either a patio, a courtyard, or maybe simply sidewalk seating around bistro tables. It might serve as a coffee house by day and a watering hole for cold brew by night. Or, if it happens to be located around a place like Nashville with a prominent and diverse artistic culture, it would likely offer a music venue for musicians, songwriters, and various local artists to engage and entertain its customers.

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