I wrote about Edinburgh's Police Box cafes for Barista Magazine Online

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Building Relationships at My Local Coffee Shop

Written by . Published on under the Coffee category.

I have been attracted to coffee shops for a long time. When I was young, I enjoyed going out for a cup of tea with members of my family. I still think back to the days when I was too young to drink tea. I’d drink a carton of apple juice or something similar. I’d think about when I would be able to drink tea. I cannot remember at what age I could finally drink tea. I do know that tea stuck with me for years. I’d drink a few cups a day on most days.

This year, I’ve spent more time in coffee houses than I have in any other year. Up until this year, I’d only go to a coffee shop once a week at the very most. At the start of this year, I started to frequent more coffee shops. I built up a strong affection for the ambience in a coffee shop. When cafes were closed earlier this year, I didn’t think much about it. I knew that they needed to close. Toward the end of lockdown, I found myself thinking about when I’d finally get back to a coffee shop.

I usually sit alone in a coffee shop. I’ve either got a book with me or a journal in which I can write notes. I already journal during the evenings but there’s something special about coffee shops that gets my mind in gear. I like the solitude. I can sit in a room where there are other people without having any pressure to interact. I can listen in on the background noise or focus on what it is that I’m doing.

Yesterday’s Visit

I went to my local coffee shop yesterday. It’s been a while since I had a cup of coffee from there. I have fond memories of their coffee. They were one of the first cafes I went to after lockdown restrictions initially eased. I’ve thought since then that I have missed out on so many experiences by going to different cafes. This one local cafe is exactly what I’m looking for in a coffee shop. Yes, I have a local coffee shop at which I am a regular. I like this feeling. 1

I decided to go out for coffee because I ran out at home. I had a cup of tea in the morning instead but it was not the same. I enjoyed the tea. I did feel like I was missing out on my regular coffee. I like the ritual of making coffee. I enjoy grinding my own beans. I try to be fully present while I am making my coffee. I watch the water boil and make sure I do not over-boil the water. I check that I’ve measured the right amount of coffee.

It was a quiet afternoon in the coffee shop. I like both busy and quiet coffee shops. Coffee shops will never be as busy as they once were but there is still a buzz in the air when there are other patrons in the cafe. I like seeing other people walk in and order a coffee. Sometimes the customers know the staff and they engage in friendly chatter. I don’t usually follow along with what is being said. I take comfort in how conversations are happening.

Acquiring a Coffee Supply

Last week, I ordered some coffee online. I decided that I would not pay the 2 pounds extra to get faster delivery. I thought the regular Royal Mail 48 hour delivery would be fine. I thought I had enough coffee. The issue was that I left my bag of coffee when I was away on holiday. I only had a few samples left over from my cupping session a few weeks ago. These samples got me through a few days but yesterday I ran out.

I expected my coffee to be delivered yesterday. This was when the Royal Mail said my coffee would be delivered. I was relieved because I ran out of coffee on Tuesday. Assuming my coffee was delivered by the Royal Mail, I’d be able to have my regular dose of coffee. I would probably have had a cup later but I’d still get to have my usual two cups per day. My coffee did not show up.

In a bind, I decided to ask the barista at my local coffee shop if I could buy some beans. I’m not sure if they knew how to respond to my request. The barista was sympathetic to the fact that my delivery had been held up. I largely forgot about my request when I sat down. I drank my coffee and ate my biscuit. When I went up to the counter as I left, the barista presented me with a box of coffee beans. They had taken 200g from their supply and put it in a box for me.

I was thankful for the effort the barista had gone to. I thought that my coffee beans may arrive today, Thursday, but I didn’t want to take a chance. I know that the cafe orders their beans fresh and that they’d be able to give me a bean that I enjoyed. I felt great that someone had gone to such an effort to help me out. The coffee beans cost me 4 pounds in total. I usually pay at least 6 pounds for a bag of speciality coffee. I think they could offer such a low rate because: (i) they don’t usually sell beans to customers and; (ii) they buy in larger sacks than I do.

I now have a 200g box of beans in my cupboard to drink. My new coffee should show up soon. I do feel somewhat bad about having so much coffee at home. I ordered even more to do me the rest of the month before I went out yesterday. I had a discount code and I know that delivery of the new beans I have ordered will take a few days. I like to keep my coffee supply fresh but sometimes things just don’t work out. I have fresh beans straight from my local shop. I have fresh beans coming via delivery soon. I have more fresh beans that will be dispatched later on. I may end up with a bit much. Who am I kidding. I can’t have too much coffee. I go through a bag in a week or two.

  1. Unlike the characters in Cheers, the people at the coffee shop do not know my name. I was made aware of this fact when I was addressed as “sir” yesterday. I’d conversed with the staff on many occasions but I had never mentioned my name. I’ll need to change this next time I go. 

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