I read a post on ‘Freshly Pressed’ that made me think: It was about coffee houses, little unique coffee shops, that are as individual as the coffee blends themselves. Now I’m not talking Starbucks or costa, cafe Nero or wherever else you choose to frequent. I’m talking, family run, homemade, kitsch little gems that are hidden off the main streets, and have that, bohemian, individual, ‘totally comfortable at home’ feel.
If you don’t know of one, then I’m afraid to say, you’re missing out. Start poking around the back streets where you live, the cobbled rows of old houses, get off the walk or the high street and start exploring. Find all the little shops that are totally unique, the shop that is everything just cakes, the hippy clothes, full of incense and glorious handmade jewellery, scarves of every colour and pattern…
For me, a cup of coffee, or more specifically a mug, a heavy, broad handled steaming mug full – is an experience. Its an actual moment, a pleasure. To sit back in a comfy chair, with a book, on my own in my mind, with friends or watching passers-by, an experience I cherish. The mix of coffee beans and milk, of that bitter and rich taste, that smooth and warm feeling as you sip, warming your hands on the mug. It doesn’t matter if it’s the middle of winter or now, ask anyone, everyone fancies an ice-cold beer or a pimms, both of which I am not adverse to, but nine times out of ten. I want a coffee.
Now lets clarify what I mean by coffee. If you’re talking about Tesco’s finest instant, then you mistake what I mean by coffee. If you’re a coffee hater and have drunk that rubbish, then there is your first problem. Lets set it straight, I’m talking proper ground coffee, fresh coffee, from a cafetière. I don’t need a fancy coffee maker, that makes me a cappuccino, or an espresso, or a mocha with all its percolating, steaming and shaking. I mean just simple, push down and filter coffee.
Now back to the place. If you are to sit and enjoy anything it’s not just about the activity, it’s the environment. Reading a book is blissful on your bed with the sun streaming in, surrounded by cushions and quilt; on a beach, with the sun dancing off the pages, the wind ruffling them gently, sunning yourself at the same time; in a hammock, wrapped up, swaying gently, with a pillow under your head and the wind in the trees… it’s the whole experience not just the what.
I’m lucky to have two fabulous coffee shops in my home towns. I say home towns because as a student, I class myself to have two, the home where I grew up, the city I spent my youth, finding myself, exploring, feeling every bit the adult in my naivety; and my new home. The place I chose, the city I live on my own, spend my days walking about, studying, frequenting book shops and cafe’s alike. Norwich, and Lincoln, if you wanted a name.
First there’s Morellos, Norwich. Family run, quirky, girly, homemade and kitsch – This place is straight out of Cath Kitsons catalogue, before she even became a household name. With cute little momentos, signs, vintage pictures, flowery teapots, hand-made cotton flowers, hooks with straw hats and ribbons, and mismatched chairs, its perfect in its own way. They serve fresh coffee, homemade lunches, handmade cakes and treats, and all with a friendly hug for anyone who stops through the door. It truly is a beautiful place to spend your time. For me is the place I went with my mum, girly and cute, lunches sat after a hard days shopping, surrounded by floral prints and lace, it was like a little girls heaven, and to be honest, it’s still one of my favourite places in this world.
The second is the award-winning, rated one of the top ten coffee shops in the country, Cafe Aroma, Lincoln. Its got that charm of a proper Italian coffee shop. Coffee served on a board, with a glass of water as it should be. No fuss, no pretence, the coffee speaks for itself. The upstairs is like a bohemian dream, full of little corners to snuggle into and enjoy. One one is mismatched with large tables, odd chairs, window seats covered in cushions of every pattern, and the walls covered in music sheets, making the most interesting wall paper. There is artwork from local artists, all abstract and obscure, bright and colourful, much like the shop itself. Next through an arch and curtain is the den. Stacked wall to wall with a bookcase full of every novel and story you could ever hope to read, big comfy leather sofas, and coffee tables, the windows draped with rich fabrics and curtains… its like being in your own den, the sort as a child you’d have died to make, attempted to in your bedroom under a quilt.
Both offer an experience, a sense of belonging, a real atmosphere of calm, tranquility, of enjoyment and individualism. There the sort of places you frequent with friends for a quick drink and six hours, 7 coffee’s and a few shortbreads later, your still there, curled up in a big chair, or perched at a table, chatting away, hopelessly happy to stay there all day. If you live in either of these places, you must visit, absolutely without fail.
And if you don’t, isn’t it about time you found your own place? That special little corner of a room, a room that gives you a hug as you come in and a smile, to sit, to think, to muse, to dwell, to drink coffee, to socialize, to have a meeting, to read… to be you. What are you waiting for?