1. Music. What the hell is this? Vanessa Carlton? Moby? Jimmy Buffet? I wish there was a coffee shop that only played ambient sounds because if you’re there, you most likely need to get caffeinated, meet a friend, or get some work done. None of those three situations condone obnoxious, horribly outdated music. Cue the Bon Iver.
2. Rude Baristas. Listen, I get it. You didn’t get a degree in Philosophy only to be pouring my coffee, but guess what? You are. So don’t be a dick. And no, I’m not tipping you, because you were a dick to me.
3. Kids. Asdfghjkl. I’m a nanny, and I tolerate a lot, but jeez, it’s like whenever there’s a patron under the age of 5 in a cafe, he or she is OUT OF CONTROL. It doesn’t help that the cupcake craze of 2008(?) is still lingering, meaning that children are quite often cracked out on heaps of pastel-colored sugar, though most regular, brown pastries contain more sugar than a snickers bar (sidenote: who the hell decided we should eat sugar and caffeine together for the perfect combination of weirdly wired?), nor that parents default to hot chocolate aka kiddy Kahlua in lieu of milk steamers or tea. Sure, sure, cafes should theoretically be kid friendly, but if you think about it, nothing about a quiet(ish) place filled with hot beverages and long white powerchords screams “bring your drunk toddler!” Just saying.
4. Price. You want me to pay what for what? I bought a latte recently that was $7.50. Yes. And I wasn’t even on the Upper East Side or in Brooklyn, I was in Seattle. Granted, it was a large, mole (the sauce not the animal) latte with an extra shot, but still. A normal, 12-ounce latte will often cost $4.50, hell even drip is like $3 if you go anywhere that’s remotely indie. I’m not mad at supporting them, but c’mon. That’s like .00004 cents worth of beans. I really just need to use your wifi to send out a job application and go pee.
5. Bathrooms. Definitely contingent on location (Starbucks bathrooms in Manhattan are pretty much shoot-up and shower facilities for the city’s homeless population) but overall, they’re either absolutely foul AF, they require a code you have to memorize (“is it 7569 or 7596, fml I’ll just re-ask.”), or the key comes with weird $#!t attached to it. These things used to be simple, like a big metal loop that resembles a bull nose ring, but now places put anything on the keys to keep you from losing them. Slabs of 2×4’s, collanders, life-size duck replicas. I have encountered all of them. I’ll take it though, because it’s better than the places that don’t have public bathrooms…which I usually realize 4 seconds after my bladder starts hyperventilating.
6. Weirdos. Like mallwalkers, coffee shop clingers appear to live at cafes. Also known as “campers” in the restaurant world, these guys essentially just move in. Some of them are seemingly normal hipsters who may or may not live in their old tour van, but a lot of the time they’re the same creepy old men that wag their junk around at the nude beaches and eerily stare at you at the gym. They usually have backpacks and a collection of empty cups. No thanks.
7. Parking. Let’s be real, coffee shops are almost never in locations that are accessible to cars because a) they’re a in a pedestrian area (smart business move) or b) every single parking spot is taken. I don’t know why. Because everyone and their mailman wants to be at these hellholes? Maybe. Either way. Oy.
8. Crowds. In tandem with the previous answer, this part is both the attraction yet the downfall of coffee shops. Like so many things, including New York City and music festivals, the crowds attract people then repulse them. From “Oooh it’s new and everyone’s going because it’s fantastic!” To “Ughhhh why are there soooo many people in here?” in 2 minutes flat. The worst is when you finally find a parking spot, wait in line, ignore the barista’s stink-eye, locate the almond milk, and shuffle in and out of the mini bathroom that makes the closet from your freshman dorm-room look like a palace, there is not a single damn place to sit. Unless you want to be that creep sitting THISCLOSE to someone in the one sad seat left in the corner, wall-facing bar, which really isn’t worth it because you can’t open your laptop because the electrical box is right in front of you, making your entire endeavor nearly pointless.
9. Inconsistencies. The only thing Starbucks has going for them, aside from some pretty neat city cups and a foundation that gives a #$%load of money to nonprofits, is the fact that you get (essentially) the same thing no matter where in the world you are. Yes, sometimes the baristas absolutely butcher your cappuccino because you’re in the airport where people only know how to microwave things but for the most part, your expectations will be met. If you’re not at a Starbucks, whatever is in the cup the barista hands you could taste like anything from coffee flavored jelly beans to something your dad would rub on a slab of raw meat.
10. Refusal to evolve. Unlike Portland coffee shops who serve organic almond/soy/rice/hemp/gerbil milk and gluten-free, vegan cookies, cold-pressed juiced, and grass-fed everything, soooooo many places REFUSE to carry anything “non-traditional.” I figured this would be the case with old-school diners and French restaurants (the French hate accommodating trends) but not in popular coffee houses. Granted, these institutions are quite often the kitschy, hole-in-the-wall boutique coffee shops that make you feel like you’ll never be cool enough to hang out within their vicinity. Which is why they only have 3 seats and no wifi. Good luck with that.
I spent a lot of time in coffee shops this week thanks to a new job with a split shift, which is why I felt so compelled to finally spew my sentiments after years of repression (HA). I’m sure I’m forgetting a dozen or so more reasons why they’re awful so feel free to chirp in. Don’t get me wrong, I grew up in coffee shops in Seattle, I did all my homework in them, and I still use them to write whiny articles on my blog, but dang, sometimes I feel like I could just cut the pretension with a hacksaw. Oh well. Happy sipping!