People not only collect the lids of takeaway coffee cups, well, I’m pretty someone, somewhere, probably does, they also study them, that’s something known as visual literacy, being the taking of an interest in the design of all the objects, no matter how insignificant, around you.
A sign of things to come? A McCafe, in the Sydney suburb of Camperdown, has shrugged off its McDonalds-ness by way of a very contemporary makeover, in a possible attempt to attract a more hip, hipster, crowd.
Late in December the McCafe next to Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital changed its name to The Corner, removed all the Golden Arches and started selling kale salads and tofu. It’s Macca’s response to consumer demand for healthier food and quality coffee and it’s the first of its kind in the world.
Located a mere fraction outside of the City of London, at 139 Brick Lane, the Cereal Killer Cafe is a dining establishment that only serves breakfast cereal. The only such place in the UK apparently. How about the world?
Filter coffee, which has seemingly been making a comeback for some years, consists of 98 percent water, or so we are told. Even if the coffee content of a filter cuppa is just two percent, it is doubtless still enough to induce caffeine shakes if consumed in excess quantity.
And if you’re looking for that something to give your coffee a little extra… zing, try adding some butter. Yes, it seems adding butter to coffee will give you an energy boost. For this to be possible though you need the “right” coffee, and the butter must be of the grass fed variety.
When I’m able to sufficiently organise myself, I like to, now and again, go along to a cafe first thing in the morning. Not only am I able set up for the work day ahead, and bring myself up to speed with the latest news, there’s of course the opportunity to down a couple of coffees while also taking in a little people watching.
“Sometimes being a barista is like being an underpaid therapist,” says Roth. “I find what people will tell you just because you’re behind the counter to be strange. I know how many kids people have, what their grades are, where they go to school, I know about people getting divorced and people going on dates. People will pretty much tell you anything – especially if you ask.”
The more I think about it, the more bizarre the practice of tipping becomes. While we might offer gratuities to a variety of people, waiting and hotel staff are probably the most frequent recipients thereof.
Tip confusion is understandable, because it’s not the way we choose to compensate most of our other people-facing professions. Imagine if when you went to the doctor, you decided how much he got paid based on how happy you were with the diagnosis; or if actors and musicians were paid discretionary sums by the audience, post-performance. Even within the context of the restaurant, some roles receive salaries and others rely on tips. Why do I tip the bartender who made my Manhattan, but not the line cook who grilled the excellent steak I’m eating with it? It’s completely arbitrary. Servers, whose job demands are not fundamentally different than that of hard-working office assistants, or hotel concierges, or spin instructors, or flight attendants, should be paid the competitive wage for what they do and how well they do it, and that cost should be factored into menu prices.
I pay enough for the privilege of staying in mid to upper range hotels, so I can’t see how they’d be struggling to pay their workers properly. I’m wondering if we’d really notice paying a little extra at cafes and bars though, so employees weren’t reliant on tips to make a living.
A cafe that charges for the time spent therein, rather than the amount of coffee consumed, is, needless to say, an idea I could get into.
Customers are charged €0.05 per minute, amounting to €3.00 an hour. When they come in the door, Volkova gives them a wristband with the time marked on it. When they leave they hand it back and their bill is calculated to the minute. The concept of time is turned on its head, with several clocks purposely showing different times. The intention is for people to forget about time and focus on those around them. “It’s easier – and cheaper – to meet people here than in a bar, where you have to buy expensive drinks,” Volkova said. Customers are allowed to have as much coffee as they want, and they can even bring their own food. The entire space is supposed to feel like a living room, with books, board games and slippers provided.
I usually find trying to work in cafes a challenge (too much noise and distraction), but if you’re more interested in being creative, or solving a problem, than being productive, coffee shops, especially busy ones, are the place to be on account of their noise and potential for distraction:
The next time you’re stumped on a creative challenge, head to a bustling coffee shop, not the library. As the researchers write in their paper, “[I]nstead of burying oneself in a quiet room trying to figure out a solution, walking out of one’s comfort zone and getting into a relatively noisy environment may trigger the brain to think abstractly, and thus generate creative ideas.”
Though long closed, and open for just seven years when it was trading, the Coffee Club cafe in Rogers Park, Chicago sounded like the sort of place I could easily call a second home.
I started going to Don’s in June 1993, a month after he opened. Don was the subject of my first good Reader story and of several stories thereafter. In 1996, I wrote a mediocre play of monologues, and the Don segment was everyone’s favorite. But outside of whatever hay I made out of the place, for many years the Coffee Club was the center of my social life. On a bad day, I could take up a chair at the back of the room and spend a whole night reading, drinking tea and eating chocolate cake, playing cards, and engaging in meaningless conversation with people I loved but rarely saw outside the coffeehouse. I met my first serious girlfriend at Don’s and went to Don’s the night we broke up, three years later. “She never liked it here,” Don said. “She was no good for you.”