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Café is one of those words that creates visions. It might be an bright outdoor restaurant on a hot summer afternoon or a dark and cold wood clad hovel behind some grungy door on a back street. Today one can easily see signs of café in various coffee shops. Here in Canada we’re inundated with drive-through Tim Hortons and a growing number of Starbucks and independant shops. I suppose if you serve coffee as it’s own offering — as opposed to after a large expensive meal — then you are a café. Size might matter too. I can’t picture a 300 seat café.

I’ve been trying to write in cafés. Tim Hortons is off my list; because I need internet access. I want internet access. My files are on DropBox, and while I can work on them unconnected, it will force me to synch up before I work on them elsewhere. I’m a forgetful procrastinator.

Starbucks is an okay choice. I like their coffee and they serve heavy whipping cream. Their connection suffices. There is not a lot of seating in them, and finding a quiet corner is challenging. I have written at two of them, and it’s a choice I’ll make again.

I’ve tried a local shop called Java Moose (JM). My problem here is they have too many lounge chairs and don’t serve heavy cream. I hate 10% cream in my coffees — John is on a high fat, Dr. Richard Bernstein, Paleo/Primal diet. Usually at JM I will read. Reading, by the way, is necessary for writing, so it’s not a waste of time.

While in Newfoundland in late 2010 I spent a lot of time in a shop called Hava Java. They had good coffee and atmosphere. I liked it a lot. I didn’t care for the food, though. I don’t do sweets or vegan. But we got along. They stayed open late at night, something JM here doesn’t do.

I’ve chatted with Randy at JM, an owner, but he’s not interested in specialized creams. It sounds like way too much trouble for him. Sorry Randy, but the customer is always right. I bring my own cream in, and I now buy my beans from Beamish Creek.

Lst night I tried a little café downtown called The Magnolia Café. It sounds nice. It’s paired with a restaurant called The Bourbon Quarter, and they serve food and drink from it. I ordered a wine, a plate of beef strips shaped like a flower, then a coffee. $17 and two hours later I’d written my 750 words at 750words.com and edited half a chapter of my novel. It felt free and easy in there, but it didn’t feel … fun.

I think cafés need to feel fun. They need happy, joyful people in front of and behind the counter. They need people that laugh and smile and make you feel good. Age really doesn’t matter, but I don’t complain about all the young people at most cafés. I don’t complain about the old people either. Smiling and laughing makes you feel good and makes the people around you feel good. I feel good about the people that visit Starbucks and Java Moose. They will talk back to you when you say hello and ask them what they are reading. The people at Tims are more likely to be harvested as antagonists in my novels, and nobody there reads. The people at Magnolia were sullen and dull. Sorry, but you were.

I guess Starbucks it is, until something new opens up, a place that serves beautiful coffee, heavy cream, and a selection of real and natural foods, a place with real and natural people, and a place that is fun to be in and write in.

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