So, my favorite coffee shop in Charlottesville isn't even a coffee shop... it's the Starbucks within Barnes and Noble. Coming from a small town that only recently got its first coffee shop, the number of coffee shops in Charlottesville (which, according to Google, is well over 15) is overwhelming, to say the least. While I haven't been to every coffee shop yet, here are some factors that were essential when I determined that Starbucks is my personal favorite.
1. Good coffee/tea/whatever you order
I mean, for the most part, this is the reason that one goes to the coffee shop in the first place. If it doesn't have a drink that you like, it probably isn't worthy of being your favorite.
2. Good prices
If you're like me, you frequent your favorite coffee shop A LOT (like, you are a regular, they know your name and order A LOT). Therefore, they're getting a lot of your moolah. It helps if they are relatively cheap or have a good deal system like getting a tenth drink free, Hooked deals, etc. Also, don't be afraid to ask about their refill policies... they are life (and money) savers!
3. Free Wifi
This day in age, every coffee shop should have Wifi. But like, if its during the school year, I'll be doing school work. If it's the summer time, I have other work to do (or online shopping) that requires Wifi.
4. Comfortable seating
When I go to coffee shops, I can be there for hours. It is an outing, let me tell you. I get to Starbucks at 9 and leave near 4 most summer days. I plop down on the benches next to my fellow regulars and I get down to work or reading or whatever tickles my fancy. And if I'm going to be at a place for 7 hours, it better be comfy.
5. Good atmosphere
For me, a coffee shop is more than just coffee... it is an experience. Am I relaxed? Am I productive? I need an environment conducive for working with decent music, reasonable noise levels, and a certain charm to it.
6. Nice employees
For the love of all things are good, employees are so important. I like having a conversation with the baristas. I like that they care enough to remember my name and order (For instance, today, I got a vanilla latte instead of my regular vanilla coffee because I had a coupon, and they literally commented on the change and I had to explain why I deviated). Nice, affable employees add a bit of social interaction to the otherwise singular outing for me.
7. Easy parking
Okay, this one may just be a me thing, but parking gives me anxiety, so I like finding places with ample parking. I don't want the enjoyment of the coffee shop to be tainted by driving around trying to find street parking... no thank you.
8. An understandable menu
I am by no means a coffee connoisseur... I don't know the differences in roasts. I don't know the difference between lattes and cappuccinos and americanos. I am a noob, and I don't like not knowing... so I freak out. I like menus that somewhat explain what the heck the differences are. I like places where I can make it froofy and not feel judged. Basically, when I do occasionally I don't want to stress out about what to get, but I also want to like what I get because coffee is expensive.
So, when looking at these important factors in a coffee shop, do you have a place that checks off all the boxes? You, my friend, have "your" coffee shop. It's a lovely thing. Embrace it.