There are loads of cafes within a five minute drive or our house but so far very few of them are places I want to sit and relax for a bit. Normally I either get a takeaway or we drink as fast as we can and get out.
Today I went to a newish cafe just up the road. It was wonderful and ticked most of my 'needs' as a place to take the kids and relax over a coffee. Hamish and I spent 45 minutes there this morning. We could have happily spent a lot longer but I needed to get home and get some work/housework done. It's my favorite sort of cafe as it's set within a second hand bookshop. It's got big doors that lead outside to a park (although you can't see the equipment from inside). The coffee was a bit average, but I'll forgive that as it's a new cafe and maybe he's still learning and it had everything else on my essentials list in spades.
Here are my top 5 essentials for a good coffee shop:
1. A good vibe - You would think being the fussy coffee drinker I am that the coffee would be first but it's not. If the place doesn't have a good vibe, I'm not interested. It's rare that we go out to cafes and the vibe is what makes it feel like a treat. It's what entices me to spend money on coffee that I could just as easily make at home.
2. Good coffee - It's a given that I'm not paying $3 for a cup of bad coffee, when I can make myself a lovely cup of coffee at home. But sometimes (as with dinner) it's just so luxurious to have someone make it for you.
3. A well stocked kids area - Most cafes in our area have some sort of kids area. To often these are a crate of broken toys with a few books that have 1/2 the pages ripped out. If your going to try and have a cafe that is kid friendly you need to have decent toys and books and preferably some coloured pencils and paper. The cafe today was perfect. They had a little nook full of second hand kids books that were for sale and a big tub of toys that were a. Not broken and b. Didn't make any noise (also quiet vital as the vibe of a place can be ruined with toys that make buzzing sounds or require the kids to bang shake or click to play with)
4. Good music - If your playing to much classical or Brittany or even to much chillout I'm not interested. I also don't want to be listening to talk back radio or top 40. Today's cafe had one of the local radio stations play for a bit, which was great but then seeing as they also have secondhand CDs for sale they alternated between some of them as well.
5. Friendly staff - let's face it working in, managing or even owning a cafe is not rocket science. It's a job that requires a high level of customer service. The better this is the more likely I (and other customers) will be to come back. Again, to often I find cafes are filled with hipster staff that act like they are 'to cool' to serve you with a smile.
As a mum, these little moments that I get to just chill out outside of the home are few and far between. I'm left feeling quiet inspired that there is somewhere within relative walking distance that I can envision relaxing with a cuppa and a good book while the boys are equally enjoying themselves.
Watching - New eps of Big Bang, Being Human and old eps of Fringe and Vampire Diaries.
Listening - Still got Hottest 100 2010 on rotation.
Reading - Catching up on some blogs I follow and/or playing with the iPhone and some new apps. (I know that's not reading but it's taking up my usual reading time)
State of mind - Relaxed but busy. (playing with apps and drinking coffee isn't all I do you know :)