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My Idea of the Perfect Coffee Shop

central perk coffee shop sign

On a given week, I frequent at least five coffee houses. My record for most visits in one day is four. I use them as “my office.” I can’t sit still for too long and I get bored easily so I hop around from one place to another allowing the current location to pique my short-lived interest and then I move on to the next spot.

Yes, I could visit my office at Temple University (we’re their newest incubator company) but I enjoy the short walks from my new place in Center City and they’re great for meetings. I can also easily indulge in my new-found addiction to chai tea lattes.

One of my best friends recently told me he wants to open his own coffee house and we briefly entertained the idea of getting into the venture together. We talked about the aspects that would make it the “perfect” coffee shop. I can’t help thinking about it now every time I set up “office” and so I thought I’d jot down some of my thoughts.

  • I imagine the decor to be in warm tones and possess a homey feel. It would be stylish, keeping with Feng shui practices and local art would be strewn across the room.
  • There would be a fireplace with comfortable leather couches around it for the winter months.
  • A special “Foursquare” mayor seat would reside in a methodical location that even Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory would approve of. It may even be a throne. The mayor would also be able to cut in line during busy periods.
  • It would have at least two private meeting rooms in the back that business people can rent in an hourly basis. They would fit four people and include a whiteboard.
  • The lighting would be adequate. Who goes to a coffee shop for a romantic date? Oh, you do? Go somewhere else!
  • The WIFI would work. And it would be fast. Enough said.
  • There would be power outlets at every other table and they would have more than 2 sockets.
  • The baristas would be friendly and trained to remember the patrons’ names. Preferably half-naked men with six-packs (Did I really just that? Just kidding!).
  • Tip jars would only be allowed if they had a humorous sign.
  • We would not play any house music. I haven’t been to a place that plays anything I’ve liked, it’s usually too loud and everyone listens to their own iPod anyway.
  • The place would be divided into a coworking place/coffee shop. More on that below.
  • The tables would be square. That’s right, circular tables would not be allowed. Or in other words, they must be able to fit a laptop comfortably.
  • The bathrooms would be impeccably clean. I find many places around Philadelphia are coed. There would in fact be separate rooms for men and women. In addition, the women’s bathroom would have a seat that cannot be lifted just in case.
  • I can’t stand it when other patrons talk loudly on their phones (why is it always old people that do this?) so there would be some kind of cell phone policy.
  • The hours would be suitable depending on the location. I don’t understand why certain places close at 8pm in the City. It would stay open until midnight.
  • Bookshelves would line the walls organized in different genres and everyone would be able to swap books.

Oh I haven’t mentioned the coffee yet, have I? Well, see that’s the funny thing. I actually DON’T drink coffee. I know, I know…my family are late bloomers, my Mom starting to drink it in her 40s, my sister when she turned 30. That aside, I would find a way to ensure we had the best around by partnering with or hiring a coffee connoisseur. A few friends have recommended La Colombe coffee. Because I know my chai tea lattes, I would employ the same women who mixes them for the Last Drop at 13th and Pine in Philadelphia (try it, it is absolutely delicious!).

There would also be plenty of coffee alternatives such as Teeccino and protein smoothies. The food would be healthy, tasty, made to order and the portions would be satisfactory but not too big (TWSS). As an aside, one of my pet peeves is the ample portions provided by restaurants. The same with the pastries. The cafe would definitely have some kind of chocolate bar (because coffee & chocolate go well together, not because I’m a fanatic ;-)).

I have a couple of ideas to combat turnover issues. One is to limit internet usage depending on the purchase amount. Another is turn it into a coworking/coffee shop hybrid (If you’re not sure what coworking is, check out this great coworking FAQ page by Indyhall.org, one of the most popular ones in the East Coast). One room would be reserved for frequent patrons who want to pay a monthly fee. The other room would be for “normal” customers.

As far as the name, I’m not sure yet. My pal, JP Toto came up with a few possibilities. As you can see, I was clearly enamored with them.

What would make YOUR ideal coffee shop?

  • http://cbcg.net Toby DiPasquale

    What you’re describing isn’t a coffee shop. Its a Kinko’s with baristas ;-)

    • Anonymous

      More like a coworking place/cafe :-)

  • Jeffdbrelsford

    Time to resurrect “Yazanas” or whatever that restaurant name we came up with was. ;-p

    • Anonymous

      Oh yeah, it can definitely apply!

  • http://twitter.com/bonniea Bonnie Aumann

    Four Worlds bakery for the pastries, for sure. 

    • Anonymous

      A bakery I haven’t been to? Unacceptable! Must. Change. ASAP! :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/barrymelton Barry Melton

    For the most part, you’ve described “PoundCoffee” in DC’s Capitol Hill area.  

    They don’t have a mayor’s seat, and they might have the occasional round table, and they aren’t open at Midnight (because you don’t make enough money to keep the doors open after a certain time, generally) — but otherwise, they’re all that and have the best coffee in the land. 

    • Anonymous

      I’m going to be in DC in the next couple of months and I’ll make sure to stop by and check it out. 

  • http://eatthebabies.com/ BradyDale

    Coffee shops need to have snacks that aren’t bakery products. It’s all sugar and caffeine at coffee shops. I had the idea a while back of a coffee shop that offered spring rolls for $2 a piece. made one site. It would be pretty sweet, because during the baristas’ frequent downtime, they could just roll spring rolls. 

    Fresh ones, not fried, I’d think.

    I believe there is a ton of demand out there for $2 savory snacks. I think that price point is pretty key, too. This is based on zero research, but I have a feeling.

    P.S. 90% of Philadelphia coffee shops get their muffins from the same bakery. I don’t know what bakery it is (one of my friends says it is CostCo). Note to all of those coffee shops: your muffins are really gross. you are wasting shelf space. Find a better supplier or sell something else. yech.

    • Anonymous

      I love the idea of $2 snacks. One of the things that bug me about the current options is that the portions are too big. They should cut them in half, decrease the price and I’m sure at some magical number, they’ll make more money (and waste less food). 

      Re: muffins, I’m not a big fan but I can see the pastries at the Last Drop and Passero’s are really good. Definitely check them out.