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In search of the perfect cafe:

What are the makings of a good coffee shop for you?
By Kat Caravella
Date: March 26 2014
Tags: coffee,
Editor Rating:

I write about coffee … a lot. I tweet about it, I dream about it. It’s in my thoughts on a regular basis.

You know how they say our body is made up of mostly water? I’m pretty sure mine is mostly made up of strong skim Cappuccino’s.

Clean eaters are probably reading this now shaking their healthy heads while sipping on their organic, loose-leaf tea full of antioxidants.

But it’s true. My obsession with the coffee bean is real, very real.

As my husband’s job has involved a fair bit of relocation, we’ve lived in over 10 houses in the last 10 years. Such is my obsession for my daily fix that the proximity of a good coffee shop is always a deal breaker when house hunting. Ideally, my ‘local’ would be in walking distance, but if I absolutely must I will drive a short distance.

At the risk of sounding melodramatic, a good local coffee shop is imperative to my zen.

Lately I’ve been thinking about what makes a good coffee shop. Of course, the coffee itself has to be awesome. But is it enough?

What do you look for in a potential local and what will put a coffee shop on your banned list? Here are my observations.

1.  The talented but rude barista

The coffee this barista makes is out of this world. From the first sip to the last, your coffee senses have gone into some kind of caffeinated heaven and it leaves you begging to order another one.

The only problem being that your Cappuccino maker is an absolute asshole and you don’t want to give him another cent because pride weirdly gets in the way of your love for coffee.

Do you return? Hell no.

2.  Coffee is good, atmosphere is good but you feel unappreciated

I’ll admit it – my coffee shop standards are set pretty high because I have had some incredible locals in my time as a nomad. I’m a sucker for someone remembering my order and appreciate when they ask how my day is without being on auto-pilot.

But if I discover a cute coffee shop and start to go regularly (which I often do if I sense promise) and you pretend you still don’t know me after a month, then chances are I will feel unappreciated and put you on the banned list.

3.  Coffee is bang-average, food is unremarkable but the owners and staff ROCK YOUR WORLD

Well isn’t this the ultimate conundrum. You visit a coffee shop for the first time because its convenient if nothing else and you are welcomed with open arms. Your children are adored and immediately given babycino’s with 2 marshmallows each and there is a corner with kids books and toys for them to entertain themselves.

Major problem: You can never finish your coffee because it just aint that great. The food is overpriced and sloppy but you smile and praise the staff for that delicious toasted focaccia that would have been much better without the warm soggy lettuce and carrot.

But you go back because you know they value your business and they are just so nice!

Banned? It’s a tough one. So far I am still a patron of one of these coffee shops and I continue to go because I just can’t ditch ‘em. For now.

4.  The coffee shop that has it all

This, my friends, is a rarity. But they exist, believe me, and my recent discovery of the Ultimate Coffee Shop was the inspiration for this piece.

Coffee: Must be excellent and the barista knows you and your order.

Food: Must be fresh and delicious and doesn’t take a million years to get to you.

Service: Served with a smile most of the time. They are human’s, after all, and can’t be cheery every single day.

For parents:

  • Pram/kid friendly: Staff don’t look at children like they are a disturbance
  • Kids corner: Not imperative but hell, if you can make some room for the kiddies with a few cheap toys and books, your café might be a bit quieter. You’ll attract Mum’s like me that require a bit of respite in the form of coffee made by an expert. And we always buy babycinos and spotty cookies.

What do you look for in a coffee shop and what are your dealbreakers?

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Recent Comments
7 Total Comments
Fleur says: 2014 03 27

Whoever chose the pic for this story knows their coffee shop is all I can say Kat. It’s definitely a category 4 as it looks like The Grounds of Alexandria.

Kat Caravella says: 2014 03 28

Hi Fleur, I think our editor selected the pic, but if its a Category 4 - I must go!

Emma says: 2014 03 28

Worse than the cafe owners most of the time, are the women whose children are older. They gather after cycle class, take up several tables and chairs and gossip loudly about the women who are not there and the teachers of their children at primary school.  They look at mums like me (2 under 3 years) as if I’m from another planet and if my toddler gets a little excited, they look at me and her as if she’s the worst-behaved kid in the world. They are dreadful (and all drive 4WDs).

I really like the idea of a play area.

Kat Caravella says: 2014 03 28

Hi Emma, I hear you! I have experienced the evil eye from these women also - I think they must have short memories! Here’s hoping when they take their school kids to a cafe they chuck a huge tantrum and get some glares back themselves! #Karma

Lee-Anne Walker says: 2014 03 28

I am a fellow cafe-obsessor and relate well to your fixation on the perfect cafe, Kat. I have a few ‘perfect cafes’ in mind but am a very hard task-master…er mistress. smile

I agree with all your points plus I’d add cakes to your list - good, home-cooked daily cakes/muffins/pastries (preferably using free-range eggs as no hen should suffer for my pleasure) Did I mention I was difficult?

I know The Grounds in Alexandria and it offers not just good coffee and food, but ambiance laid on (plus a pig called Kevin Bacon!) You must go at least once, the crowds are formidable but the experience is worth it.

BTW I dumped a local cafe because the barista was rude. They were just too arrogant for their own good and after all, smiles are free - why wouldn’t you?!

(Sorry about the ranty comment!)

Kat Caravella says: 2014 03 28

Lee-Anne - we always agree on our cafe/coffee obsession!

And I definitely missed cakes and I totally agree with homemade/free range eggs - surely the only way to buy eggs these days! - i’m difficult too! smile

Good for you that you dumped your barista! Well deserved - no coffee is worth being treated badly for (unless its 11am and I still haven’t had a coffee, I might be ropable then myself!)

atchelor says: 2021 01 09

They have the best coffee and it’s the best platform to search for things. It gives low cost with best quality coffee with minimal time spam delivery. But now bialetti provides great info about coffee. It has good quality and taste is so delicious and the deicer is captivating.

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