The Search for the Perfect Coffee Shop

Sometimes a writer needs to get away, but where?

My longing for a coffee shop has little to do with caffeine. I am an addict, but not an aficionado. Folger’s is just fine for me, and I make my own each morning. What I want is a place—a table where I can spread out a little, a bit of natural light, and a dim buzz of activity that I can ignore.

South Jersey—the region where I live and write—has many fine attractions. For instance, I’m five minutes away from an authentic Revolutionary War battleground. I’ve never been there, but if I ever feel the need to visit an authentic Revolutionary War battleground, five minutes, I’m there. In the opposite direction, there’s a mall. This mall is so popular, they built four other malls around it. We are thoroughly malled up.

Yet in all that commercial potential, there is not a decent coffee shop.

I’ve tried libraries. No coffee, but they do have, you know, books. My problem is that there isn’t enough buzz. I like knowing that human communication is going on around me, even if I’m not in on it. As a writer, I want to keep my finger on the pulse of society. The library doesn’t have much of a pulse.

We have more diners than we need in South Jersey, and there are times when I have sought solace at a diner when I grew weary of the search for a coffee shop. Diners do serve coffee, and they have tables. Their waitstaff also displays a unique charm. They generally call me “Hon,” an endearment I don’t receive at the library. Still, I need more.

For years I hated Starbucks, on principle. Their overpriced coffee was one thing, but it was probably their steady drive toward world domination that bothered me most. I still laugh when I remember a joke I heard years ago from Conan O’Brien. “It is now illegal to open a Starbuck’s inside another Starbuck’s.” And yet now I find that Starbuck’s is usually my best option. Coffee. Tables. Buzz. The only problem is that the nearest one is twenty minutes away, and that’s twenty minutes I could be spending at home complaining about the lack of coffee shops.

So if you have entrepreneurial skill, come on over to South Jersey. There’s a wide open market for the perfect coffee shop. And a cool battlefield. Or so I hear.

Randy Petersen

2 thoughts on “The Search for the Perfect Coffee Shop

  1. I feel ya, bro. Do the kids still say that? Anyway, I love Starbucks and I agree that having a “buzz” around while writing is helpful. But something that’s frustrated me since moving to this northwest suburb of Philly is the lack of a nearby cozy Starbucks that also has adequate parking. There are two I’ve found that, inside, are spacious. One even has a nice upstairs with a fireplace! However, there’s room for only 5 or 6 cars in the parking lot. And, of course, any time I go, the lots are full. The flipside of this are a couple of Starbucks near me that have plenty of parking, yet they’ve removed all the comfy seating. The interiors are cold and uninviting.There’s one that has good parking but the store is so small it’s always cramped. My dream would be a nice-sized Half Price Bookstore (which I also miss here) right next to a comfy Starbucks and lots of partking. Or, better, close enough to walk to. Heaven!


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