Coffee Shops: An Unlikely Home Away From Home

Coffee shops are intimate places.

Caity coffee
PHOTO CAITY MONROE

My best and worst of times have almost all been shared with or over a cup of coffee. “Grabbing coffee” with someone facilitates a social meeting where relationships can start, develop and end. The coffee meet up is safe. You don’t have to wade through an entire meal if your testing the waters of a new friendship and with coffee dates, you don’t experience the agonizing wait for the check when someone has just ended things.

Individually, coffee induces some of my best work. I’m not really a library dweller and I have no idea how anyone works from home. But coffee shops somehow make me get stuff done. They’re appropriately homey, while they maintain an atmosphere that somehow steers me away from Buzzfeed and Pinterest. When I’m not working, coffee shops serve as my sanctuary from any craziness that might be going on in my life. If I need to think, you can assuredly find me with a drink in hand at a coffee shop.

Caity1
PHOTO CAITY MONROE

Coffee shops (when the atmosphere, location, service and drink all work in harmony) serve as my homes away from home. Coffee, in my eyes, is more than just a drink. When visiting a new place, I always aim to find the best coffee shop in town. These shops offer more insight into a city’s culture than you might expect. How and where coffee is made are interesting variables in every culture. Not only can people watching be at its prime in these locations, but the decorations, menus and even the cups can all point out interesting things about the coffee culture of a city or neighborhood.

From Berlin’s unconventional café that doubles as a vintage clothing store (Sing Blackbird), my all time favorite organic bakery and café in Cape Town (Mango Ginger) and a beloved coffee shop located in the back of a running store (ZombieRunner in Palo Alto), I’ve learned there isn’t and shouldn’t be a template for successful coffee shops. Every one has something unique to offer and exploring the particularly quirky and individual ones has helped me to understand and appreciate intimate parts of foreign cities that I may otherwise never see.

Lizzy Monroe

Originally from Eugene, OR, Lizzy graduated from Stanford University. She's a coffee & street market enthusiast, her travel style involves planning ahead but never hesitating to improvise. Her favorite country is South Africa, she never travels without her Swiss Army Knife - mostly because of the hidden pen, tweezers and corkscrew.

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