What’s your definition of Home?

What's your definition of Home?

Let’s face it…. coffee shops are like a third home for me. I use the word ‘ home’ pretty liberally in terms of locations and countries. But after three years, I really do feel like London is my home. And no place more than The Fleet Street Press – a coffee shop near the Strand Campus of King’s College London and the Maughan Library on Chancery Lane. That coffee shop has seen multiple essays develop; it has kept so many secrets; it has fed me brownies and chickpea spinach soup. I even knew this coffee shop when it was called Get Coffee (Let’s go to ‘get coffee’ … clever right?) and the same Italian barista that has worked there for the past 3 years. A bleak Tuesday, three years ago, I saw this small coffee shop offering a ‘Monkey Mocha’. I was intrigued by the name and discovered a chocolate/banana/orange creation in this perfect house of wifi and bathroom access. Since that day, I have never looked back. It will always be one of my FAVOURITE coffee shops in London.

Check out their website: http://www.thefleetstreetpress.com

They also have a twitter with their daily clever coffee-board sayings!

Independent Coffee Shops – visualised by the London Tube Map

Independent Coffee Shops - visualised by the London Tube Map

Well, besides the fact that the TFL is having disruptions due to the London Tube Strike… this is a lovely graphic that showcases all the best independent coffee shops. For those that feel a little bit more spicy than a Costa, Nero, or Starbucks. There’s something about the independents that is fabulous. The inconsistent tables, the local waiters, and the foam hearts on your coffee. I’ve been to at least 10 of these coffee shops, but my all around favourite is The Oval Lounge… Why you might ask? Because I lived around the corner from the cafe on Palfrey Place. That independent coffee shop has sentimental value: I would pass it on my way to school, my flatmates and I would have sunday brunch, and they had Eggs Florentine for a Tuesday afternoon work session on one of their wooden tables.

It’s create to explore the city and look for coffee shops, but ultimately, it’s the ones nearest to you that make the biggest impact. They have convenience, consistency, sentimental value, and a “this is mine” feeling. Those small coffee shops that only fit the locals may not be a part of multi-national corporations that are changing the global business landscape, but the small ones change my Sundays and Tuesdays. Make no mistake, the local business make a BIG difference in people’s day to day life. And I for one, thank them… especially for the foam hearts.

What makes you happy?

What makes you happy?

I am a coffee shop enthusiast who collects loyalty cards like lucky pennies. Coffee shops are my third home. I love everything about them: the smell of black coffee, the sound of foaming milk, and the short bursts of wind that brush against my skin when the door opens. Just thinking about the wooden tables and skinny soy lattes can bring all my senses to life. I’m one of that person who owns four ‘Coffee Shops of London’ books, knows the barista’s name and often goes ‘exploring’ for new hidden gems. It may not be a prestigious hobby, but finding a new coffee shop with Wi-Fi brings me instant joy. I’ve written countless essays, had numerous important conversations, and discovered new music in coffee shops – and every trip manages to make me happy. A simple “black coffee for here” can always brighten a gloomy Saturday afternoon.

I also love to look around the population of each coffee shop: old friends with foreign accents that are catching-up, awkward first dates, students in-between lectures trying to stay awake after a night out, a business man with the daily newspaper and his iPad, an old woman with a Sudoku puzzle, and the struggling artist with a notebook filled with short stories and drawings of his half-empty cappuccino. For all you know, the person sitting near to you could be the next J.K. Rowling. Nevertheless you still avert your gaze after making accident eye contact. Coffee shops are the hubs or intellects, stressers, and artists alike. There’s no better place to people watch…

Bring the story of your life to LIFE.

Bring the story of your life to LIFE.

I approached the Parisian coffee shop to find Violeta sitting at a small circular table, already waiting for me. She had a burgundy blazer (that matched her lipstick shade) and a bright red handbag. The cherry tomato colour of the bag exuded a confidence that was confirmed by the big smile that recognized me. She quickly put down her black leather book and gave me a firm handshake. After placing our orders in French, I inquired about Violeta’s life. She giggled for a second, only to respond, “It’s kind of a long story. I can’t even answer the question, ‘Where are you from?’” She proceeded to tell me about her childhood in Bulgaria, her high school in California, and her time in London. “I like to travel… a lot!” She continued, “But more than merely tourist visits. I like to assimilate into the culture. For example, finding a local coffee shop…a hidden gem just around the corner from a big boulevard.” With that, she made a slightly head gesture to Rue Mouffetard as our barista arrived with two black coffees. Immediately, she shook her head no to the offer of sugar and crème; she insisted, “I like my coffee bold.” Violeta paused, readjusted her thin black glasses and continued, “Where were we?” And with that question, a slight British inclination crept in to an otherwise strong American accent. We then went on to discuss random themes from her sister’s turtle to Tina Fey’s autobiography to society’s latest obsession with Pinterest. Jumping from knowledge in one subject to another, I couldn’t figure out Violeta’s degree. “Film Studies” she responded, “the academic study of cinema and the ability to talk to anybody! After all, who doesn’t have a favourite actor?” Before paying the bill, I asked about the black leather book on the table. She lifted her hand off the cover as if let me peek inside. Then, Violeta leaned in slightly, lowered her voice, and whispered, “It’s my sketchbook… filled with drawing, typography designs, business ideas, and storyboards for short films. I would show you, but I only just met you.”