Coffee adds value

A coffee shop in the vicinity of residential property for sale increases the value of the property by tens of thousands of dollars, according to an article in the real estate section of the West Australian Newspaper the other morning. That really struck a chord.

Coffee beans 2

Coffee shops serve many functions. They’re places to nurture old friendships and consolidate new ones; discuss the world and how to put it right; share our sorrows and joys with people we love; meet  book club friends; enjoy solitary indulgences; delight our senses with the aromas of good coffee and freshly baked goodies; hide ourselves away; seek solace when the world seems too tough; quench a thirst or satisfy caffeine desires; read a novel or a memoir or textbook; read glossy magazines and newspapers that we haven’t paid for; and shelter from the rain, the wind and the sun.

And, of course, cafes are where some people write.

We drank coffee in one of these cafes beside the Canal du Midi in Agde in the south of France

We drank coffee in one of these cafes beside the Canal du Midi in Agde in the south of France

Cafes in new cities and towns are especially good for simply sitting in comfort and watching the world go by, absorbing the sights and sounds and odours of the new, the unfamiliar and the unexpected.  Sometimes in a strange place there’s the added bonus of engaging with people from another culture and the opportunity to demonstrate one’s aptitude, or at least willingness to try, a language other than English as we order coffee.

The simply named Coffee Pot in Wellington Street was first coffee shop I remember. Close to Royal Perth Hospital where I trained as a nurse in the late 1950s, the Coffee Pot seemed the height of sophistication to my sheltered, seventeen-year-old self. Soft, low lounge seats, thick carpet, dim lights augmented with candles, and jazz playing softly on a stereogram in a corner rendered my favourite Vienna coffee, served by an elegant French couple, even more exquisite.

My parents thought my coffee-drinking in general, and the Coffee Pot in particular, were the height of decadence. But they never checked it out and I chose not to disillusion them. Visiting the Coffee Pot with other nurses after a Saturday evening shift that finished at 10.00 p.m. seemed like a minor rebellion, especially as we were all expected to be tucked up in bed on the second floor verandah in the nurses’ quarters by midnight.

Writers seem to have a special affinity for coffee shops. Or perhaps it is the other way around.Think Hemingway, de Beauvoir, Sartre, de Balzac for starters… many of my current writerly friends and acquaintances confess to enjoying regular writing sessions with their lap tops in their local cafes.

The first, handwritten draft of my own memoir, Other People’s Country, took shape in several coffee shops to which I could walk from my house in Bayswater. Walking stimulated creative ideas, and the caffeine in the bitter drink seemed to concentrate my thoughts.

Sitting in a corner, or sometimes in the spring or autumn sunshine on the pavement outside, I sipped coffee and scribbled, almost oblivious to my surroundings and the people around. At home, ‘thinking’ breaks were punctuated by coffee. I feel sure that coffee added value to my writing.

Coffee time

Coffee time

The culture shock I experienced when I left Bayswater a few years ago and moved to Scarborough, where a few shops by the beach boasted loud music, sandy-footed surfers and tourists, came as a major surprise.

There has been a  breakthrough in Doubleview, where I now live. Although I don’t plan to move from here anytime soon, so that property values won’t affect me, I’m sure that with the event of new coffee shops they have soared, as the journalist predicted. The cafes have certainly added a new dimension to our lifestyle.

Three years ago, there were no coffee shops within walking distance of home. But since then at least seven of them have have emerged, in unlikely places in shopping strips at both ends of our street and further along Scarborough Beach Road to the west, as well as one in St Brigid’s Terrace. All of the shops are trading well.Two open at 6.00 a.m., others later and, by morning tea-time, seating is at a premium.

I’m still checking out and making up my mind which one I’ll adopt as ‘mine’ within the next week or two, when I finally get down to the serious business of beginning my next book.

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12 thoughts on “Coffee adds value

  1. Oh Maureen, where do you find such inspiration to write your blogs! I really like this one, but feel on the outer as I don’t drink coffee!! Shock shock horror! I am missing out!
    I used to be a coffee drinker and like you I remember the Coffee Pot! It was THE place to go any night after 9pm. So close to the Nurses Quarters, especially to the old Globe Hotel which was practically opposite.
    You would think coffee places would be on the decline with so many home coffee makers on the market. Maybe it’s not the coffee which is craved, but the surroundings??
    I’ll be here next week for your blog or will Easter interrupt?

    • Nice to hear from you, Elizabeth. It’s good you remember the Coffee Pot. It was an important part of the nursing lives of many of us. I’m a bit sad that as I get older, I drink less coffee. One day I simply drank less, and now I’m down to two cups a day. But I still love the atmosphere of cafes and the aroma of coffee, and I like to be part of the scene. I’m sure the appeal is mostly the atmosphere as well as good coffee.

  2. I love this post! I’m with you about cafe-coffee culture. I have my favourite place in Murwillumbah, the Modern Grocer, and I go there every day except Sunday, when they are closed. I’ve made several friends through them, and have introduced friends to friends there. Their seating style encourages this, as they just have two big tables, plus some window seats and a bench. And they sell and serve yummy gourmet food too, which I occasionally indulge in over a literary lunch.
    I believe Paris literary, cultural and social life is conducted mainly in cafes. I’m sure it’s true of other European cities too, and it was true of London back in the 17th and 18th centuries. There’s a fascinating Telegraph article on this which you can read at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/europe/uk/london/9153317/London-cafes-the-surprising-history-of-Londons-lost-coffeehouses.html

    • Thanks for your comment and for the link to the article about the history of coffee shops in London, Christina. How clever of you to be able to put your fingers on such a clever article on the spur of the moment. I do wish you were here, or I lived in Murwillumbah so we could drink coffee together again. Love your throw-away line about literary lunches!

  3. Well I don’t wish I were there, as I love it here, better than Perth, but I do miss my Perth/WA friends and family. I just googled coffee shops London 17th 18th century, and found that one, which I haven’t taken time to read yet. I remembered reading about Johnson, Boswell and the others and how they frequented coffee shops.

    • I think Murwillumbah sounds absolutely wonderful – exactly the sort of place that you would settle in to and become an important part of the community. I sometimes imagine you in your beautiful country town.

  4. Hi Maureen
    Your right, the cafe scene in Doubleview has definately grown in the last few years
    I have owned Cafe Relish for almost 12 years, it’s become harder than ever for us to make money but we will continue to trade and provide good food at a good price with personal friendly service.
    Good staff are hard to find, but I have always been willing to give work to and train virtually anybody who asks.
    Occasionally we may receive a bad review via urbanspoon or other social media outlets, but wish people to understand that my business is supporting my family and any problem a customer may have can and should be dealt with on the premise at the time
    Restaurants and cafés get rated by the public on social media more than all other industries put together, it’s funny that a $20 meal or supposedly bad service could upset someone so much
    Anyway, i enjoyed your blog and hope to meet you soon at Relish

    Matt

    • Hi, Matt, Thank you for taking time to respond to my post. I will definitely make myself known to you the next time I’m at Relish, which is a very easy walk from my house. So far I’ve been a silent customer. Like you, I find it difficult to understand why people have so much trouble pointing out a real or imagined problem when they are actually face-to-face with a service provider. Most people are only too happy to correct a mistake, if it is pointed out in a reasonable manner It seems mean to then broadcast their dissatisfaction on social media outlets, where the service provider has no avenue to respond and rectify a problem. That would make a good topic for a blog post, so thank you for suggesting it. Best wishes for Café Relish. I will see you soon.

  5. I love coffee too.!! I well remember The Coffee Pot also, it was somewhat “naughty” to admit visiting there when we were “girls”, only those of adventurous spirit went to such places. (AND admitted it to others).
    Such was life in Perth in the 50’s and 60’s.
    Thanks for evoking the memories. Rosie.

    • Thank you for visiting my blog again, Rosie. Glad my memories of the good old Coffee Pot evoked some memories of your own. I can smell the coffee in that wonderful place now. I wonder what happened to that French couple who ran it. They were such an exotic touch, and started my love affair with France.

  6. Hi Helen and Matt ..As matt will know we are regulars at Relish after work at Chinta Cafe is finished for the day and we need some good food that someone else has cooked..We hope Helen adopts Chinta as her cafe of choice .
    Robyn and Graham

    • Hi, Robyn and Graham. Thank you for taking time to read and respond to my blog. I’m very impressed that you go to Relish at the end of your very busy days – it is good to see that the neighbourhood not only offers more wonderful choices of cafes and restaurants, but that you are also creating a worthwhile community as well. I look forward to making myself known to you next time I’m in Chinta.

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