According to those of you who read my last blog entry about Epoch Coffee, every coffee shop should be treated individually, according to its own strengths and weaknesses.
So I come to you with a question:
What makes a coffee shop great?
A popular and intelligent coffee blog called Coffee Cup News uses the following criteria to rank the quality of a coffee shop. I’d like to run the list by any coffee gurus who read this blog regularly and get your thoughts. Here is this list with my thoughts on each topic. What do you think?
- Music – This can make or break a coffee shop experience for me. Music is one of the main determinants of mood and ambiance. It can also determine whether or not a specific coffee shop is a good place for students to study. Music that is distracting or too loud can ruin a study session. However, such music can also help foster a coffee shop’s unique personality.
- Colors – Colors also help set the mood within a coffee shop. Do you think I should pay much attention to the colors in the places I visit? Normally I see shops focus on earthy tones like green, brown and deep red. Perhaps it would be worth commenting on the color within a coffee shop only if it stands out.
- Lighting– This factor compliments the above two. Dark lighting can make conversations difficult, as it makes it harder for people to visually connect with one another. However, dark lights can create a calm and personal atmosphere for people who want to simply drink their coffee alone. Overly-bright lights can become annoying.
- Set Up & Comfort – What kinds of chairs and tables does the coffee shop use? Is there an abundance of cushions? How high are the tables and bars? All these things influence how much a person enjoys a coffee shop.
- Cleanliness – Nothing can ruin an appetite like a pile of dirty dishes behind the bar. Also, doesn’t it gross you out to see food particles and waste on a table you just set your mug on? It grosses me out. There must be a happy medium between filthy and hospital-grade hygienic, I think. I wouldn’t want to drink coffee in a totally sterile environment, either.
- Friendly – This is a difficult thing to rank, I think, because it requires ranking people. Friendliness and professionalism should be important, but honestly I enjoy coffee shops that hire unique individuals. They can be soft spoken, curse, tell dirty jokes — whatever. I like variety when it comes to people. I will not necessarily condemn a coffee shop if its employees aren’t completely friendly. That’s just me, though. What do you think?
- Fast – Nobody likes to wait for their food or drink.
- Fun – People can get coffee anywhere. You can buy a second-hand coffee machine and some Folgers for less than twenty bucks and drink coffee at home. People go to coffee shops for a sense of community and involvement. That’s how regular patrons are created. People find their favorite coffee shop by looking for the establishment that caters to their personal definition of a good time.
- Drinks – How do you think I should rate the the drinks found in the coffee shops I visit? Certainly quality should factor in. Should the variety of coffee factor in as well? Personally I will drink any kind of coffee, but I know people who only care about how well an establishment caters to their one style of drink.
- Food – How important is food when it comes to your favorite coffee shop? Some shops like to serve pizza or pie or pastries. Should this become a deal breaker?
- Accuracy of Order – Baristas should get an order correct consistently. Or should they? How much room for individual creativity should we leave for our drink makers? Much of history’s greatest art was created by bending the rules.
- Internet — How important is fast and free Internet to you? It’s a deal breaker for me, but it may not be that important to people who would rather enjoy person-to-person communication while drinking coffee. Austin blogs a lot inside its coffee shops, so wi-fi is probably a must.
So there is the list. I want to hear what you have to say about it! Soon I will be formulating a criteria for rating local Austin coffee shops. I want to get the the bottom of what makes a coffee shop good, so let me know your thoughts.
What makes a coffee shop great?
Photos courtesy of Brent Schneeman, Jen Gallardo, clarkk and Kaleb Fulgham, respectively. My ranking criteria is derived from Coffee Cup News.