I used to think that coffee shops were boring. As it is becoming increasingly common as I mature, I was proved wrong.
I have learnt that sitting in a coffee shop, you can observe many interesting things. You might see the parade of people hurrying by in the morning for their caffeine fix. Alternatively, perhaps you might glimpse those settling down for a solo coffee break amongst the busyness of the day. Or perhaps if you are especially lucky, you might see, but not understand, the beginnings of a multimillion deal or a lifelong friendship starting over a debate about the merits of a flat white versus a latte.
So perhaps there is value to small coffee shops, even if they are rather noisy. There are other benefits. So while at first I thought that I would not be able to enjoy my coffee with so much hubbub around me, it does make it easier to see and hear things going on around you. Everything is quickly put right in your face. You are given a front row seat to entertainment.
Cosy is especially aptly used to describe Monmouth, a temple to coffee in London, as it has only a few tables at the back. This means that if you wish to stick around to have your cuppa, you have to share. While waiting for my coffee, I learnt a great deal about my companions seated to my right. How one was visiting from Romania and was being taken around by a British gentleman. During her whirlwind tour of London, he wanted to show her something special at what he thought was the best coffee joint in the capital. To my left, sat a couple chatting away in Korean. As I didn’t understand them and I provided no entertainment with my book, we promptly ignored each other.
Once I had had enough of the English language dialogue to my right, seemingly opportunely, my coffee arrived to draw my attention elsewhere.
Latte. With delicate earthy coffee flavour, creaminess brought about with just the right amount of milk, this is why Monmouth deserves the queues. It was smooth, aromatic and delicately balanced. Burgeoning coffee snob that I am becoming, I think this is the best coffee in London. Easily.
Trying to draw out the experience, I alternated sips with reading of my choice of paperback. As I savoured the last drop, I put down my book and prepared to leave. This elicited a comment from the gentleman opposite me. Many times when I was young and single, I dreamt that sitting down to have a drink, waiting for a plane or randomly in a restaurant, that serendipity might strike. I used to think that that might be how I would find my other half.
In this case, it was a married man who struck up a conversation with me. As my friends constantly tell me, I don’t have the most friendly of demeanours. Maybe it is because I have a face that some people don’t like. I can agree with the former but not the latter. As for the proof of this, if the second half was true, I wouldn’t have spent the next 30 minutes discussing a very interesting topic. The title of my book. “Knowing God”.
So coffee shops are where you can find so many interesting things. It might be a delicious drink. Or perhaps entertainment. Or even an unexpectedly uplifting and interesting conversation. So next time you are in a small coffee shop and see an annoyed looking person reading a book, strike up a conversation. You never know where it might lead.
A quiet eating 8.5/10.
A coffee was GBP3.10.
27 Monmouth St,
London WC2H 9EU