Ok – I admit I got you at the headline yes ? I’m not actually going to open a coffee shop – well – never say never I guess – but if I did here’s some of the things that it would have and that I search for when I’m trying to find a coffee spot :-
Let’s start with the Barista, a passionate skilled barista would be the very top item on my list – someone who is passionate about coffee is absolutely essential. But this person doesn’t just have to be good with coffee in terms of grinding, brewing, latte art and have an exceptional palate finely tuned to coffee, they need to be an excellent communicator, someone who can chat to customers about coffee and general things too, you see I want my coffee shop to be a hub of sorts, a place where people can come together to share good coffee, engage in good conversation and then to be be able to do other things too.
Of course, it’s not just the Barista, all of the staff would be friendly, engaging and passionate about coffee and My Little Coffee Shop, and as owner I’d be someone you would see often when you visited.
Great Coffee – a coffee shop is nothing without good coffee. The barista would be in control of this and as well as having a few ‘house blends’ which regular customers could rely on always being there, it would be great to have a barista who has the freedom to source unusual, speciality coffee and to have these on the menu too. One of the best places I know for this is Cafe Rider where the customers share their special coffee finds too often bringing bags of beans into the Cafe to discuss and try.
The Coffee Menu – of course it’s got to have the essentials, the lattes, americanos etc, but my coffee shop would have a few signature coffee’s – something that makes the place special and stand out from the others. I’m not talking about a cup full of coffee enhanced with mass produced synthetic syrup or flavoured sugars, I’m talking about a coffee that is worthy of a few extra dirhams above what you would normally pay, something special, something you consider as a treat – perhaps it’s the signature coffee the barista made for a competition, or it’s a cold drip infused with some herbs or fruit, whatever it is it needs to be signature coffee specific to that shop and something that makes you say ‘wow’ and puts a smile on your face when you drink it – something that makes you think ‘I must bring …. here to taste this, it’s so good’
Live Coffee Roasting – I love the smell of coffee beans being roasted, and a small in house/in shop coffee roaster would be a great asset to the ambiance of the shop – This takes me back to my trip to Kilimanjaro and a few days I spent hanging out in Moshi, where the smell of freshly roasting coffee surrounded a few of the coffee shops I spent time at or to Istanbul where I queued for quite a while to buy freshly ground turkish coffee at the spice souq. Not essential, but it would be good to have the opportunity to buy coffee beans or freshly ground beans from the Cafe to take home or to gift too.
Pay It Forward – Loyalty cards that reward customers for their loyalty are great, I have a wallet full of various cards all waiting to receive stamps so that after my 9th coffee or whatever I get a free cup, but I’d love to ‘pay it forward’ and have a scheme where you can anonymously gift that coffee to someone else, perhaps with a little note to wish them a good day or something like that. Random acts of kindness are something I try to do often, I don’t have a ton of spare cash but the smile on someone’s face when you do something little makes all the difference.
Ambiance and Location – assuming that the coffee is great and the barista is great – then ambiance and location are next on my list. I’m prepared to trade one over the other for the right coffee and ambiance. In Dubai a lovely view is always great, an outdoor terrace with a view is even better, and a sea breeze and sea view makes this coffee lover really smile as the beach is my ‘happy place’ – add to that a cozy chair or sofa that I can snuggle into, free speedy Wifi, a few magazines to read then you have a winning venue and I’m likely to spend hours at your cafe (and hypothetically mine) working, chatting, relaxing and reading. But if you don’t have all of that then don’t worry I am always willing to trade location for ambiance.
Seating – hmmm – I would have a cafe with mixed seating – an interactive coffee bar is one of my favourite areas for socialising with the barista and customers, some tables and chairs for casual meetings or those who like to sit up when they are working, a mixture of tables suitable for 2-4 and then longer tables for groups say up to 8 would be good too. I love the communal feel of the super large tables/working areas at places such as More so something along this line would be good too. Add to this a few snug areas with cosy chairs and sofas and coffee tables would be great, spaced far apart enough so that you can have a conversation without everyone hearing (Starbucks and Caribou in particular take note). A few solo suspended hanging chairs or hammock type chairs would be great for avid readers who like to snuggle in a corner for a while.
Social – how about a small TV area showcasing the social feed for the Cafe to encourage interaction and engagement – images, #hastags, tweets, Instagram images/collages about My Little Coffee Shop and coffee generally and would be fun and quirky. I’d love to see a free lending library based on the ‘My Little Library‘ concept often seen in the States, along with a selection of Coffee Table Books showcasing Coffee, Dubai and the Middle East. Social activities such as Coffee Cupping, the odd speaker/singer/social event would be good too. A little Doodle Wall would be good – for customers to leave feedback/thoughts/comments – I’d have something that could be cleaned easy maybe a sheet of glass attached to the wall – with plenty of pens available for people to be creative. A Community Pin Board covered in post it notes – wanted/offered – maybe a trade board where you can trade one thing for another would be good. Artwork/Locally made crafts I would have a little area dedicated to showcasing work of local artisans and perhaps a few quality and quirky coffee accessories for sale too including some quirky coffee cups which I would commission. I’d also love for the space to be multi purpose and fabulous so that it could act as a backdrop for other things for instance, a space to host pop up events, or to be used as a background for a photo shoot, or an area for a creative writing/photography/food styling course to be hosted.
I don’t have children, so bear with me on this one, an interactive area for children would be great (I’m not talking electronic games here), somewhere safe for the little ones to play with a seating area for mom and dad or auntie or whatever to sit close enough to keep an eye on them but far away enough to give the kids some playtime and for the adults to have some ‘me or us’ time or should we call it coffee time 🙂
Food – of course there should be some good food on the menu, but to be honest if I go ‘out for a coffee’ coffee is the real reason I’m going out and the main feature of what I want. Sure I can add a muffin or a cake, or perhaps a sandwich to this depending on the time of my visit, but coffee is the key, and for now I’m not focussing on the food menu. A good quality handmade biscuit or piece of shortbread served with the coffee would be amazing, I’m thinking different biscuits paired with different coffee to enhance the experience, oh and can you imagine what it would be like if my little coffee shop had an alcohol licence, beautifully crafted alcoholic coffee cocktails and coffee spiked with amazing alcohol additions, mmmm a dream too far I know – but the smile it’s brining to my face is good 🙂
The look and feel of my little coffee shop would depend on the space, I imagine it’s going to be eclectic, comfortable, uncluttered, inspiring and calming, smelling of freshly roasted coffee. A little community coffee cafe bringing people together with a passion for good coffee.
That’s my little post done, what would you add to your little coffee shop ??