Here I am asking the universe for an improvement. Worldwide. Imagine that you are in a medium large city, carrying around a backpack with a book or two, your calendar and your laptop, you’ve got an hour to spare and it is, say, 11:15. Time for a seat, a cup of coffee, a horizontal surface and an illusion of a tiny private space. Unless you’re at some American university campus and have access to some dedicated sit-and-wait-and-sip place, your chances of finding a suitable café are small.
In one typical kind of coffee place one can only manage a quick, standing and back-nudged espresso, like in that corner shop in Ithaca’s Collegetown where there was not even a place to hold the cup.
In others, such as the last-resort-type cappuccinery at Kiel Central Station, one drinks one’s coffee while balancing on a wobbly bar chair. Göteborg’s Da Matteo has bar chairs and standing facilities as well and as an additional attraction some puppety tables in the half-protected area outside the shop with blankets for coping with one’s gothenburgian-fine-day goosebumps. Try to sit there with a laptop and concentrate – all this is quite a shame because Matteo’s coffee is the best I know (…the coffee there is the best I know!).
The third kind of Café puts too many too small tables in too tiny a space together with too many chairs and hence attracts customers with SUV-size strollers and a minimum of four bulging shopping bags per person. There are usually also shrieking kids there.
One Café in the Gothenburg Central Station has the lounge area that I’m looking for, but very low tables; reaching for the cup becomes something of a yoga exercise. They also raised their prices recently. But you can in fact read a book there all right.
Finally, there is the Chamber of Torture kind of Café. You enter, it looks like you will be able to find a table, their coffee smells nice and their sweet temptations look as if you absolutely need to have one, or two. You sit down and unpack. You line up and order. You sit down again. And then the banging and shouting behind the counter starts, the First Generation Diesel grinder gets going (apparently grinding medium-sized rocks), five infernal coffee makers burst into a deafening hiss all at once like a bunch of steam locos at the end of their workday, the juicer starts making noises like a sawmill, and the cozy old-style high ceiling does its best to amplify everything into supernatural proportions. No matter where in the world you are, Borås, Staunton, Belfast, Bremen or Shizuoka, these are the cafés that rule. Coffee making is serious business, and the customer must suffer for it (and eventually turn stone-deaf).
Please, Universe, give me some silent, spacious cafés with good coffee and normal tables.