Friday, 16 March 2012

café culture

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

The coffee houses of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were hotbeds of debate and discussion on all manner of subjects by the learned, artistic, and famous folk of the day. As such, coffee and all things associated with it came to invoke eloquence and quick thought.

So read the little card that came with this coffee pot necklace (with a lid that opens and closes--gaah!) that my mom bought me as a New Years present. It couldn't be more perfect, since I am always escaping to cafés to work on my book (getting away from the internet is worth all the money I've spent on coffee these last few years and more). Usually, my requirements for a café/hideaway are simple: I like big windows, cheapish coffee, and plenty of ambient noise, but preferably no power ballads or gaming machines. Occasionally though I take myself somewhere a bit fancier, such as Els Quatre Gats, the historical-treasure-cum-tourist-trap, where Picasso and his artist friends used to gather. It's only a theme-park version of its former self these days, and frankly, the no-name place around the corner doing breakfast seemed to have a better atmosphere, but I like to roll in every few months anyway.

Does your town have cafés that keep discussion and debate alive? It can be a hard balance to hit actually. Barcelona probably has more café/bars than anywhere I've ever been, but I find myself eliminating many of them for one reason or another: too expensive, bad quality, too noisy, too quiet, clientele too posh, clientele too dodgy, revolting croissant, terrible music, staff-insist-on-speaking-English-to-me or whatever. Still, going out for coffee here is one of my favourite passtimes, and I think I like Els Quatre Gats now and again for the historical context. I feel that the ubiquity of free wifi and Macbooks has kind of killed the best part of café culture in North America this (says the girl with a Macbook who's often to be found anti-socially clacking away), but there are always little oases of public space tucked away here and there...

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

24 comments:

Closet Fashionista said...

It looks so amazing in there!! And I LOVE that necklace!
Sadly the closest thing there is to a cafe where I live is Starbucks...not exactly fun, a ha. But whenever I go to NYC I always try to find a fun looking cafe to go into :)
http://www.closet-fashionista.com/

Valerie Enríquez said...

One of my favorite cafes ever :) I loved their little cups so much that I lugged it all the way home in my suitcase (thanks goodness it didn't break!) You captured the details beautifully, and I wouldn't mind sitting in there to work on schoolwork or something similar x

Terri said...

There is a spot in my little town where the old men gather for coffee in the mornings. Sometimes their gatherings last 2 hours or more...and the talk is mostly gossip. As for the cafes near my campus, I am afraid that wifi has been the death of face to face conversation.

Annebeth said...

I love how visiting your blog is like being a tourist, with the bits you share and the pretty pictures you show us :) that café looks amazing. I actually did a paper on the decline of café culture (we call them "brown cafés" here because of the colors and because of how uhm authentic and of-the-people they are). We didn't reach any conclusions though, but it was pretty sad. A real café here sometimes only gets like 3 customers a day, one being the mailman. More during sports events though.

Kirsten said...

Wow it looks beautiful! Wish my city had cafes like that! I'm so glad to have found your blog, I've just been scrolling through the pages and it's lovely :)

elissiam.

Chaucee said...

What a cute place! The colors and structure are mesmerizing. I love that little card that came with your coffee too!

Rachel, Cold Knees said...

It certainly looks the part, but lots of places are more style than substance these days! I think I remember reading about Els Quatre Gats in a Ruiz Zafon book.. which would make me want to go there :) It's the same in Seville though, there are plenty of tiny no name places that are now more authentic than the fancier we've got the history and style type places. x

caitlin said...

i love sitting in cafes and don't do it nearly enough, mostly because the only one within walking distance is actually more of a restaurant and can get pretty rowdy around brunch time (lots of little children do not a cozy atmosphere make...) that's one of the things i miss most about living in an urban area.

i've sometimes imagined opening my own little cafe/used book store where my friends and i could just hang out all the time and converse and strangers could come in and out and join in and we could fire up the old cafe spirit. i agree that laptops (and, i would argue, ipods&earbuds) are killing off that great cafe camaraderie, but i also tend to get lost in my own business when i go to one :)

ps that necklace is ADORABLE.

Eleni said...

Luckily Bath is full of cafes, and my friend Sarah and I are systematically working our way through them all, trying to find a favourite. I agree with Caitlin, though - children ruin it for me! I'm such a grumpy old spinster! But I live in a town full of Yummy Mummies and Ladies Who Lunch, and their misbehaved little brats really can spoil a pot of tea and a book!

Amber said...

My town really needs something like this. The closet thing we have is the Barnes & Noble and that is just not cutting it.

Ashley said...

I am such a sucker for a great cafe. For me, it's the quality of coffee that draws me in to certain cafes. But seeing as you are in Europe, coffee is instantly better made almost everywhere! Big windows are a big yes. I could waste hours and hours at a cafe (as I brought up recently on my blog, ha).

Zane said...

beautiful shots

Emily, Ruby Slipper Journeys said...

@Caitlin and Eleni: Agreed. Kids get a big thumbs down!

Shybiker said...

Love the necklace. We have coffeeshops here, but none encourage interaction so they don't function like places did in the past.

Lia said...

Aww I really love your blog! These photos are so cute! Hopefully you visit my blog! <3

Lia
http://theperksofbeingagirlygirl.blogspot.com/

celia said...

How I wish I could've seen Quatre Gats back in the day! I used to love Muy Buenas before it turned into a crap cuban-modernist tourist trap as well, but I agree that Barcelona still has some nice cafes.

That necklace is so cute, specially knowing that the lid opens.

his_girl_friday said...

I just love that teapot necklace.

Monique said...

your post makes me think of a little cafe in valparaiso, chile. i felt it was the kind of space that lent it self to friendly dialogue. lovely necklace.

Emily, Resplendent Tranquility said...

Revolting croissants just will not do! I was so happy to read that the lid on your coffee pot necklace actually opens. Most excellent.

Nicole, Coco Maria said...

This coffee house looks kind of perfect. We don't have too many beautiful, historical coffee houses around these parts. Far too many starbucks. Though I did just discover this cute little tea room that I hope to be frequenting. Also, that necklace is adorable!

dusanabotswana said...

the cancer of cafe culture! haha well i guess people might socialize if they run into someone they know, which is better than nothing, but I too find it very hard to find a great coffee shop, although i did have one i loved in Mexico, big enough to not be distracted by others' conversations. This place looks incredible!!
http://dusanabotswana.com

dusanabotswana said...

oh and historical buildings... one of my major qualms with Phoenix.
http://dusanabotswana.com

Kezzie said...

There's nowhere where I live like this. They are all just tacky East London 'caffs'. That said, Valentines Mansion a bus ride away, has a lovely Gardeners's cottage. WHat's your book??

Emily, Ruby Slipper Journeys said...

I am (or at that point was) writing a children's fantasy/adventure novel. These days I'm still finishing up edits on that, while also writing short stories and another novel. :)