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Conyac’s New York Cafés series: Is bad coffee a prerequisite for a good café?

image: Broadway and 42nd st. Starbucks street view.

Coffee vs. Café

Here's a thought: There are two types of cafés in this world. Ones that serve good coffee and ones that serve, well, the café itself.

Allow me to explain. 

I'm on the move a lot in NYC, so I tend to spend a lot of time looking up cafés where I can stay for an hour or two between appointments. If it has wifi and an electrical socket for my laptop, I’m there.

And that's the point, because even though the word “café” literally refers to coffee, how many of us actually go to Starbucks just for the coffee? Starbucks coffee is far from my favourite. The brew itself isn't great and it's rather expensive. Unless you're drinking frappuccinos or pumpkin spice lattes all the time, I'm willing to bet you'd agree that the quality is "meh" at best.  

But I still go there. Is it because I’m a hypocrite and a slave to my caffeine addition, ready to get my fix anywhere I can, and Starbucks just happens to be everywhere?  Not exactly.

Read, Research, Write, Relax. Café possibilities are endless. 

Simply put, I believe we go to Starbucks for the lounge atmosphere, the free wifi, and the imagined experience it provides us. To clarify, think about sitting at a cafe grinding out some emails, writing a college paper, making a client presentation, etc, etc. These kinds of activities are something we all have to deal with, whether we like them or not, but if we're doing them in a cafe suddenly it becomes, dare I say, "cool"? With the ambient sound of clinking coffee cups and light music playing in the background, the time and money we spend at cafés isn't really about the coffee, it's about the experience. If you're interested in reading more about this concept, there is a great article on Forbes which describes cafés as the "Third Place" in our lives (the first two being home and work). 

As a last parting thought, why is it that all the cafés that serve really good coffee don't seem to have seating at all? Coincidence? Conspiracy? That's a thread for a different day.

In my next NYC (New York Café) post, I’ll list up the cafés I’ve been to in Manhattan, highlighting the places I feel are the best to visit and why. 

Jack Xavier's most recent café visit: Starbucks on the corner of Fulton and Nassau in lower Manhattan. Generally available seating and more sockets than most places make this café a good place to stop if you're in the financial district. 
カルチャー English 17 Jan 2015 at 00:21
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