The quintessential coffee shop has grown, for lack of a better term, quite organically in the minds of Americans over the decades.
With over 30,000 cafes to the United States’ name, there comes an inevitable commonality between them all. They’re viewed as highly modern settings with convenience at your fingertips. Free Wi-Fi, accessible charging stations, quality lighting, you name it. Then there’s the rustic furniture or impeccable modernism, beautiful to witness even through the haze of the morning rush. It’s all topped off with, what else, delicious coffee and tea paired with pastries, soups and treats. Whether you visit cafes regularly or only swing by as a reward to yourself, it’s easy to think these places blur together after a while.
Here are three small, yet significant spins on the classic coffee shop I’ve seen recently. Some things never change, but these are more than happy to bump up the novelty:
Like opening up a 3D Pop Up book and feeling your eyes contort, Milky’s Coffee has gone a notable extreme with their new interior showcase in Toronto. Designed from the word go to be a quick visit, there are no tables or chairs in this dynamic new space. Instead, it coasts on a novelty design of layered wooden panels and, of course, tasty specialty coffee. Even the foamy top and cinnamon dusting of their in-house latte matches the beige and white color scheme.
Who doesn’t love a good behind-the-scenes peek? Moving beyond the standard ability to watch a barista whip up a drink behind the counter, Press Coffee combines the best of the cafe and the roaster in one beautiful spot. Transforming an old KFC building with a visual spitshine and more interactive design, the glass paneling makes it easy for customers to watch the entire coffee process from beginning to end. It sounds like a truly special way to enjoy a good drink.
A distinct departure from the first two examples on this list, this bakery-cafe hybrid stands out for its embracing of the casual home vibe. The owners utilize intentionally mismatched wallpaper, rainbow letter magnets and potted plants to create the illusion of walking into a family member’s kitchen. Even the store’s title is named after the founder’s two daughters. While some may no doubt sneer at a lack of polish, this quaint commitment to the mundane details of life shows less truly is more.
I love the feeling of entering a coffee shop and getting ready to settle down for an hour or two. While I don’t visit cafes often — whether for reasons of budget or the fact I’m more a night owl than a morning person — I always want each visit to count. Great coffee is just one slice of the pie! My personal favorite details are rustic furniture, lots of plants and plenty of local art. The sort of space that makes you feel like you’re the protagonist in a slice-of-life film…bonus points if the cafe’s got some great indie tunes.
If you’re craving some new coffee alongside your new cafes, I’ve rounded up some of my winter coffee and tea staples (still relevant in Washington’s rainy weather, hallelujah!).
What do you tend to look for in your cafe experience? Are you more of an exposed brick kind of coffee drinker or someone who needs an extra polished sheen?
Alternatively…what do you often remember once you leave?