Looking back to the Fall of 2010, when I wrote the post It’s a coffeehouse bonanza. How do I choose?, electrical outlets, Wi-Fi and beverage selection tastes all had their place. As with anything, over time, tastes change.
The coffee shop is still a second home for me when on the road and at home and over these last few years I’ve gotten a lot more particular about what kind of shops I visit and spend time in. It really got me thinking while at Star Provisions and at other coffee hot spots in the heart of Atlanta.
When on a road trip the number of electrical outlets a coffee shop has is important if I need to get work done. If I am just looking to charge my gadgets, now that I have a USB port in my car, a working cigarette lighter, and a portable pocket USB charger, a coffee shop could have them or not and it won’t alter my feelings on the place.
Wi-Fi in coffee shops seems to be a touchy subject these days. I could go either way on the matter. Sure there are times when I want to research upcoming destinations, checkout my social networks and surf the web on my laptop and doing so to some java is perfect. At the same time though you want to take the time to enjoy the coffee, the atmosphere, the conversation, the town or city you are in and having no Wi-Fi enables you to do just that.
Inside the shop, the layout and type of seating has taken a backseat (no pun intended) to the general décor of the shop. High ceilings, artwork and the type of coffee equipment being used, all catches the eye more now. Sitting in front of the coffee machine at Café Intermezzo in Atlanta airport did the trick, not to mention all the conversation between strangers and fellow travelers at the bar.
As far as seating goes, I’m sure window seating will still catch the eye as well as outside seating opportunities and being able to take in the fresh air.
The front entrance of a coffee shop and the roaming opportunities that surround it are as important as ever to me. The entrance to a shop tells you something right away, whether it’s popular, kept up, unique, etc. When the shop is in a neighborhood, city or part of town that I have not been in the traveler in me wants to see exploration options. A walk with some of the shops brew to beautiful scenery will likely lead me to come back over-and-over again.
As soon as I saw the outside to Condesa Coffee in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood I was hooked. The Midtown skyline views that sat right outside the doors drew me in even more combined with their outstanding coffee.
When going to a coffee shop, I will always give their signature drink a look even if it’s a specialty drink or latte. These days though I am more inclined to experience the coffee itself. Sugar, milk, creamer, chocolate syrup, etc. all have their place, but watching a pour over being made right in front of you and smelling the beans and coffee in its natural state gives me goose bumps. Watching a Kenyan pour over being made at Dancing Goats Coffee Bar within Ponce City Market gave me such a feeling.
I did go the signature drink route when at Octane Coffee in Grant Park. Their Ameri-cola, Atlanta’s own Coca-Cola combined with espresso shots, definitely did the trick on that morning.
Doing a basic Google search always helps when looking for independent coffee shops to explore. I’ve found that Swarm (Foursquare), Yelp and asking the Twitter-verse are just as effective. In the states, the blue signs along the interstate in regards to coffee usually will highlight Starbucks, Tim Horton’s and the other big chains. They don’t catch the eye as much now-a-days.
If I do stop for a Waffle House coffee, there should at least be some loaded hash browns alongside. As far as Starbucks goes, I’m not going to lie, the Egg Nog and Pumpkin Spiced Lattes do draw me in from time-to-time, just not nearly as much as before. Tis the season. :)
No Google, no maps, no problem. The unplanned, random spot sometimes turns out to be the best. Drip Coffee in the small downtown of Hapeville was such a place. The off the beaten path coffee shop nestled between the downtown ATL and the airport had the eyes wide open as I hung out inside and captured the outside scene.
I’m sure a couple of years from now when I revisit this post my tastes in regards to coffee shops will have changed some. By continuing to check out the coffee scene in Atlanta and elsewhere I look forward to discovering the next thing that will give me goose bumps.
What do you look for when exploring coffee shops around home and in your travels?