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A light-hearted look at coffee shop culture

with our first guest coffee shop writer – Frank Adobe-Phrik

Today I write to Jazz… Nice.

This isn’t a conscious decision. It’s linked to a conscious decision, but then, I suppose everything is.

My conscious decision was to have breakfast in “One Fine Day” cafe in Pai. I have spent my mornings here, seeking out the best breakfast and coffee combo. As any freelance writer will know, the quality of the coffee and breakfast is not enough to warrant unpacking the laptop and writing paraphernalia. Three, after all, is the magic number. My third pre-requisite is the music choice.

I know that many writers are not brave enough to deal with these challenging and contentious subjects. Relax… I have this one covered. It does not matter where you are in the world, there are two types of coffee establishment. Those who understand the importance of creating the right ambience and those who are wrong.

As I stood outside this delightful little open fronted cafe this morning, I hesitated. I read the menu thrice, (because it is phonetically more pleasing), despite knowing that I would order exactly the same thing as I always do. Subtle strains of jazz guitar gently tickled my ears. I looked down, surprised to see that I had already started a jazz finger click, and before my first latte too. I then noted that the syncopated snap of the obscure hi-hat, coming in on the one, and three-real easy, (like Sunday morning), was, in fact, my flip flop. Hold the boat! This kind of morning shenanigan is unprecedented. 

Then the final revelation swung the balance. Three, after all, is the magic number. As I stood, toe dangled over the threshold, the decision hanging in the air with all the tension of a Konitz solo, the record finished.

Just sit with that statement for a moment. Are you there yet? One more time for the people a the back? The RECORD finished…

That crackling sound wasn’t the gentile frying of bacon. They were playing vinyl! I nearly scat, bap, diddly bap bap myself. That is a muso’s heaven, right there. A cafe that plays vinyl. Book me a table; daddy’s coming home. 

Why music matters

I can’t believe I have to explain this. Still, I realise from my recent encounter with a “pop” record, that there is a broad definition of what is classed as music. To be honest, I am not necessarily a jazz fan. However, this lazy lounge jazz playing right now is happy, subtle, and has that same quick, slow, quick slow, rhythm I have when I type. 

The music also suits the tone of the cafe, which is a burrito bar in the evenings. There is a Latino style to the percussion. There is context. However, the most critical thing that makes this whole ambience right is… 


I have lost count of the number of times I have walked into a cafe and walked straight out again because the volume is overpoweringly loud. OK, I warned you this was contentious stuff. Buckle in.

The top 5 mistakes coffee shops and cafes make

1. The music is too loud mate!

We get that you don’t want to work here and that you are being paid a minimum wage. We also understand that you like dubstep… but I am trying to use your Wi-Fi and avoid renting an office. Have some consideration!

2. YouTube is not acceptable!

When I walked in here, you lulled me in with your Tibetan Spa music. Why am I now listening to some shrieking millennial-focused advert for the latest app which will “get you fingered tonight”? Jeez, now its playing Foreigner. I will be honest. I don’t want to know what love is, and I don’t want you to show me.

3. Spotify is not acceptable

Your lazy playlisting is bad enough, but to make things worse, a customer attempted to vary the monotony, by requesting some mid-eighties synth-wank an hour ago. They have now left. Three hours later and I am trying to finish this final draft with “Front 242-Tragedy For You” blasting out. DJ Algorithm ain’t no superstar buddy – pick a lane.


4. Plasma screens with News 24 on

Mate. I am trying to relax… with my fifth coffee. Why am I looking at Boris Johnson’s current-eyed, swollen mush? I know the sound is down, and I can play that game where I script my own VO (that’s media talk for voice-over-Ed) in my head, but even in my head, he is spouting the same old crap.

5. Can you turn the neons down to blinding, please?

Lighting is everything, neon is out. End of discussion

That’s it. Take from it what you will. I have enjoyed my first guest post for Joined Up think. Maybe I will contribute again. 

I have to finish this article now. An actual paying job to start writing. It’s 4:44 AM in the UK which gives me three and a quarter hours to my deadline. One of the beautiful things about being here is that extra 7 hours. I highly recommend. I’m also a firm believer in the magic of numbers.

Three is the magic number, of course. No argument from me. However, the more astute among you will have noticed that this article is precisely eight hundred and eighty-eight words long.