Is it the Coffee or Is it the Café?

In my travels around the area, I have found that there are two main types of café. The first type is focused on the coffee. Places like Barista, Coava, Nor’West, Ristretto, Extracto and Heart, some of which I have yet to visit, are run by coffee purists. These people want the coffee to always be at its top form. If you ask a question about their coffee, they can tell you about the coffee’s origin, its roasting profile and all of the subtle flavors it has. They can list you their top five favorite coffees of all time, who the leaders of the specialty coffee industry are, what makes a single-origin espresso unique, etc. Above all else, the owners and employees of these cafés care about coffee quality and they want you to share their passion.

The second type of café is focused more on the café experience. Palio or Caffè Umbria are examples of cafés that fall into this category. Coffee is important—no question about it—but these cafes want to be a meeting place for more people, a place where students, writers, and bloggers go to study or write. They often have a wider food menu or more comfortable surroundings. Some people are really drawn to one type of café or the other. Before I started to learn about specialty coffee, I would have said I preferred the café experience (as long as the coffee was drinkable). After talking to the coffee enthusiasts, I now appreciate both types.

How about you? Are there other types of cafés that you like to visit? Are you a regular at a certain café? Why do you like that particular one so much?