Many people are in love with Starbucks coffee. The varied flavors draws crowds and long lines. But I find that this establishment lacks what a small one-off coffee shop gives you. Smaller establishments have an individual feel that makes them more a part of the neighborhood that they are found in. It's as if that shop shares the same DNA of its surroundings giving it more of a sense of belonging.
The workers themselves aslo seem to just fit in. They remember your name or at least your face. They become familiar with your indivdual story and they seem to have an interesting one of their own. The customers are no different. Many of the people within seem to be long standing features of the shop. Even if some of the people within are just a part of the latest influx of transient students and workers these shops radiate so much permanence that this is never felt.
For instance looking around just such a shop local to Old Town Alexandria, Virginia called Killer E.S.P. I see items that make it seem as if this place has been here for centuries. Sitting in it you'll find art for sale and memorabilia on exposed brick walls. Even the furniture reminds you of something that would feel quite at home in an older relatives house. But this fact does not take anything away from this place. Instead it works to add a sense of familiarity that encourages you to stay and sip.