Alakazam 🦄
Feb 21 · 5 min read

Hey guys, 👋

The last time I was at Tea Avenue, my favourite coffee shop at the moment, I realised what an important part of my day-to-day life that cup of java is. ☕

Whether it’s a quick pit stop in the morning or a much-needed respite on a weekday, a good coffee shop always comes to the rescue. It’s also a good place to do some people-watching. If you’ve never done it, trust me on this. Strangers can be truly fascinating things. 👩👨

Coffee shops are also great places to collect yourself, whether with a good book 📚 or a fully charged laptop and Wi-Fi. 💻

I took a moment to make a list of the things that make a place stand out to me. Perhaps a budding entrepreneur who has plans to open their own cafe could use the insight. 👩‍🍳

Coffee

It goes without saying that the coffee should be exemplary. Although taste is subjective, it helps to profile your customers and brew them a cup that they will truly enjoy. Not everyone is conversant with the different types of beans and roasts, but a coffee’s quality is constantly hanging in the balance. So as long as a carefully-harvested and intentionally-sourced coffee is roasted and brewed within a strict set of parameters the concoction would be brilliant. The idea is to let the coffee be the best version of itself.

The Barista

You need to hire a barista with good skills. Make sure they can grind coffee and brew it. They should also be able to recognize differences in aroma, body and flavour in different coffees. Making quality espresso is one of the hardest things to master. See if they know what tamping pressure to use, the extraction time, grind size and how it relates to factors such as humidity and temperature. Brownie points if they know how to make latte art and use different toppings. Remember that if you get a bitter cup of coffee it’s not the coffee or the roast, it’s the person who made it. A well-trained barista will create a cup of coffee with a smooth finish and rich flavour, every time.

Presentation

When I get a cup of Joe to enjoy on the premises, I appreciate when it’s served in real mugs. Unexpected mugs or glassware such as painted pottery, unusual shapes and designs, clear glass mugs or anything whimsical is a nice touch. The classic heart or a rosetta on a latte is nice but extra points to the cafes that take it one step ahead and make the effort to stand out.

Atmosphere

The best coffee shops are feel-good places, with relaxed decor that’s not too cheesy-cosy. I usually notice how well lit a cafe is when I enter it, and whether it has any plants. If it’s too dark, that could prove to be an issue. You don’t want to fall asleep on the couch since you’re probably there to catch up with a friend, get some work done, or take a break from your hectic schedule. I’m always happy to be enveloped in good, varied music played at a soft volume. Ideally, something in the shop will be so inspiring that it’s worth Instagramming, whether that’s the exterior facade, a display of pastries, or a speciality drink.

Seating

I prefer a variety of seating, from ‘comfy corners to wistfully observe people’, ‘a window seat to read the newspaper from’, ‘couches for conversing’ to ‘comfy chairs where you can get light work done’. Comfort is key, although maybe not something you’re tempted to fall asleep on. If you’re a work-friendly cafe, power outlets and reliable WiFi are an ideal most cafes fail to supply.

Snacks

A coffee shop with actual food is great for when you’re in a rush and need to grab lunch. A nice variety of sweet and savoury food options is a major plus when you have a highly curated food selection. Think of it this way, I want to be able to choose something in 5 seconds and count on it tasting great.

Originality

This will sound like a cliché, but be the best, the first or the only one. You can’t survive if you’re a carbon copy of your competitors. If you can be all three of those things, that’s even better.


From one coffee lover to another,

Okay, I’ve been thinking about coffee for too long now.

Worked up quite the craving.

I think I should convince one of my hoomans to drop in at the closest coffee shop with me.

Hey, a unicorn needs a break from bossing around the team.


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Alakazam 🦄

Written by

VP of Growth at Alakazam. Just a unicorn writing about Digital Marketing hacks and other exciting things.