It’s the ultimate first world problem, but one we need to discuss. Because a good cafe makes you feel something special. Like you belong to a hip community that understands you and your coffee order. You have a place to read your Hemingway, your Meyer, your Brown, your Wilde and everyone accepts you for the awesome person you are whilst also bringing you food and clearing away your crap at the same time. Some people say books are our friends. I agree with them. But I also challenge them to find a book that isn’t enhanced by being read in a rad cafe with awesome service and a solid breakfast menu. Ha. I won. How satisfying. This is a topic I will surely come back to many times in the near future, because I spend many days ordering piccolo lattes and taking three hours to finish them so whatever cafe I’m in can’t kick me out. But for the moment, here is what I want from a cafe, in an article I wrote for yeahnah.tv.
I’m not a picky customer. I don’t ask for a double shot, decaf, skim milk piccolo latte. That’s not my style. I try not to be a wanker/ admit to the world that I am actually a wanker.
There are a few basic things that I ask for from a café. I don’t care if the barista is hot but if you’re a business owner and you want more business, there’s a sure-fire way to achieve it. I won’t make a fuss if my milkshake is served in a glass jar as opposed to a traditional blue paper cup (here’s looking at you, Grounds of Alexandria). I also don’t give a flying duck’s bum if the ingredients are sourced or not sourced from organic local farmers who have names like ‘Rain’ and ‘Shine.’. Be your bacon from Woolworths or Terry Wright, I salute you because you serve bacon.
But here are a few things that are really, really necessary in a café:
Someone should greet me at the door.
There is nothing worse than coming into a small café for the first time and feeling like you don’t belong there as you stand like an awkward idiot trying to see if there is a table available. My friend and I entered a cheeky little café in Marrickville the other day. We stood, perplexed, feeling like virgins who just don’t know what to do. A cute guy sitting near the door saw our creased brows and politely offered us his table as he had finished his brekky bowl. Gratified, we sat down. Only the next minute, a hot, angry, hipster waitress prowled over to us and snarkily exclaimed, “Excuse me, a woman and her small child were here first. This table is theirs!”.
We felt like awful people but this was not our fault, dammit. If only the café had implemented some system whereby there was a sign telling us to wait to be seated, or a person for that matter. Perhaps a fucking green light above free tables like they have in the new Westfield parking lots. Anything to avoid the shame of commandeering the eating space of an innocent young woman and child and having a whole lot of hipsters stare at us with disdain in their eyes and on their beards.
Give me water.
Not in five minutes. Not after I’ve finished my side of wilted spinach that has weirdly arrived before anything else. Now.
When I ask you what is good here, tell me what is good here.
Don’t try and be diplomatic and tell me that everything you have is delicious. I’ve never been here before and my attitude towards food in the mornings is distinctly indecisive. Tell me that I should order the chorizo egg shwarma and I’ll probably get it. Thank you.
If you fuck up my order, tell me.
I’ve worked in a café before. I understand that you get a billion orders a day and you don’t actually care about any of them. So if you forget to enter my haloumi into the system, that’s cool. If you realise you’ve actually run out of fig jam and therefore can’t make my fig jam French toast, fine. Just let me know so that I can process it. I’ll recalibrate my expectations. I’ll stop staring at you with evil eyes every time you walk by me so that you have to look the other way. I’ll be amiable. I’ll make a joke about it being my flat white to have fig jam. You’ll pity laugh and your day will go on. Cool.