I’m on a quest for the perfect coffee shop. Like most modern cities, Denver has endless options. I’ve been introduced to several of them over the past year, but I still haven’t found The One. Or if I have found that special match, I haven’t realized it yet.
There are people in my life who believe that “The Universe” always provides us with everything we need; but sometimes, we have to be willing to ask for it. I struggle with this view, to be honest, but I’m willing to give it a shot. (“The Universe” is my generic placeholder for all the different labels we ascribe to a thing that makes sense of why we’re here.)
As I understand it, the teaching is that you have to clarify your intentions and then make them known, to yourself, everyone around you, and The Universe. And once you’ve made your intentions clear and you’ve aligned your efforts with them, the conditions are ripe for magic to happen.
In my search for The One, I think I could use a little magic right now. After all, we’re talking about my second-favorite beverage and a suitable place in which to worship it. This is serious business.
Today, I sat down and attempted to clarify my intentions in this quest (thank you, #procrastination). It turns out, the things I seek in a coffee shop are many of the same things I seek in a mate. That sounds like it could be a problem to address in another post — or maybe one to take up with a professional. But for now, I’ll offer my statement of intentions.
What I’m Looking for in a
Mate Coffee Shop:
1. Friendliness. I love walking into a place and being greeted warmly, with a smile and a friendly word or two. It sets the tone for the whole encounter. By contrast, the feeling of arriving somewhere and not being acknowledged at all is an instant turn-off. The One will understand the importance of these simple gestures.
2. Cleanliness where it counts. I’m not a neat freak, so this isn’t about clutter. I don’t care if a few board games are stacked in the corner, or if newspapers aren’t folded perfectly. But I do care if a surface on which food is prepared hasn’t been wiped down, or if the people preparing my beverage appear to have poor hygiene. The One will know when to keep things clean.
3. Appreciation for music. A good coffee shop knows that music can completely change the way you experience a place, and that the right music for the moment depends on how much light is in the room, who’s in the room, what they’re doing there, etc. The One will understand that there’s nothing like walking into a room and hearing one of your favorite songs playing.
4. Intelligent conversation. Coffee shops are the perfect setting for chatting up strangers. I love to be able to get into a deep conversation with someone about something interesting, and lose track of time. The One will be able to make that happen.
5. Hospitality. There is no substitute for someone who thinks about your needs and sincerely tries to address them. For a coffee shop, there are endless ways for this quality to shine through. Situating tables close to power outlets; setting out power strips; comfy seating; WiFi passwords clearly posted; heating pastries / sandwiches; different milk and sweetener options…. I don’t believe in unicorns and I don’t need a personal assistant. But with The One, I’ll know that my needs are being considered.
6. Community-mindedness. I believe that if we want strong communities, we have to be willing to invest what resources we have into them — whether that’s time, space, efforts, funds, or anything else. I recently discovered a place called Drip, probably the current front-runner in my quest. It has a loft upstairs which can be used as a meeting space. There is a placard on one of the tables that indicates that the space is available for free to groups who are working on bettering the community — churches, social change organizations, charities, etc. Like Drip, The One will recognize that they’re part of something bigger than themselves and make their resources available for the betterment of their community.
7. Good aesthetics without obsessing over them. I care about self-presentation — that’s no secret to anyone. But I have also found that sometimes, pretty things can be ironically off-putting. Some coffee shops are really attractive from a design standpoint, but they try too hard; when I visit them, I feel too much pressure to look the part and I can’t be myself. The One will make an effort to be pleasing to the eye without obsessing over it — attentive enough to presentation to draw me in, but still down-to-earth enough that I won’t feel the need to apologize if I show up in yoga pants with my hair pulled back.
8. Belonging to a community I’d want to join and something I’d want to be part of mine. I love when I make a new friend and I think, “I can’t wait to introduce this person to my other friends.” And similarly, I love when I’m introduced to an established group and it reminds me of hanging out with my own crew. So it is with coffee shops: If the “regulars” are people I could see myself hanging out with, and if I can see my close friends being comfortable there, we have a match made in heaven.
9. A taste for variety. I love to try new things, but I also love my familiar favorites. I recently discovered cold-brewed coffee and that’s most of what I’m drinking these days. But sometimes, I splurge with a Chai latte. And sometimes, I just want my standard pour-over. And then there are those days where I just want to be surprised. A good coffee shop will keep up with my taste for variety. And The One might even keep me on my toes.