What is it about a coffee shop that will drag perfectly normal people out of bed before 10 AM on a Saturday morning? That is what I have been wondering as I sit here surrounded by at least ten other caffeine-thirsty souls at the Perfect Cup in Lincoln Square. My fellow coffee drinkers run the gamut from mustachioed hipsters and frazzled students to a topcoat-wearing Dapper Dan.
So why am I here?
Well, to introduce this blog to you, of course. And because I simply love coffee shops. I believe that there are generally two types of people: the grab-and-go coffee drinkers and the sit-and-relax coffeehouse denizens. I am of the latter variety and am not ashamed to admit it. I get off a little on setting up my laptop, ordering my coffee - black, of course - and giving myself at least an hour of unfettered time to explore the internet, get some work done or just let my mind wander.
The Perfect Cup is a great place to do all of these things. When I first walked in I thought the place was pretty small, until I realized that there was another whole room in which to enjoy a variety of roasts, breakfast sandwiches and homemade granola treats. There is enough seating without it feeling too crowded. There are board games and books to enjoy, as well as art on the walls for sale. All in all, it is a very cozy place to spend a rainy Saturday morning in Chicago.
Now that I am halfway through my first cup of coffee for the day, I am starting to feel more alive and more thoughtful about my initial question. What is it about coffee shops, specifically independent ones, that compels people to frequent them over the big boys like Starbucks and Peet's Coffee? In short, the atmosphere. There is something uniquely cozy and inviting about a local coffeehouse that the megabrands cannot offer. Even after Starbucks went through all the trouble of renovating their coffee shops to resemble independent coffee shops, they simply cannot replicate the feeling that you get from walking into a place that is a little off-beat, colorful, and chock-full of characters that make up the fabric of the coffeehouse itself.
And I, for one, am glad to be one of those characters.
The Perfect Cup
Address: 4700 N. Damen
Cost: $6 for a small coffee and a breakfast sandwich
Internet: Free for 3 hours with purchase.
Barista friendliness: 4 out of 5. Lots of smiles this morning.
Hush factor: 4 out of 5. This place was a conversation-free zone.
Entertainment: 3 out of 5. Plenty of magazines and games to play.
Seating: Small and medium tables; couches.