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 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.
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.
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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