The jingle of the little brass bell as the door judders open, squeaking slightly on its hinges. The warm air inside washes over you, and with it the familiar, comforting smell of the fresh coffee beans being tipped into the grinder, and the soft chatter of the customers gossiping over their brunch. The cashier is absent-mindedly singing and bopping along to the upbeat acoustics flowing out of the speaker in the corner. Your ears are suddenly hit with the loud screeching of the milk steamer as the barista prepares the order for the guy in the tshirt standing flicking through Instagram near the register, patiently waiting on his caffeine hit for the morning.
There’s a man in a suit sitting on the little table near the door tapping away on his laptop who glances up as you walk in. Empty piccolo cup pushed loosely out of his way.
The loud table at the back erupts in laughter, a bunch of young people dressed in baggy jeans and crop tops, nothing better to do at 10am on a Tuesday than catch up over their almond milk flat whites.
A lady in a tight, smart dress jostles you with her handbag as you make your way to the counter. She’s hurriedly heading for the door, checking her emails, distracted. It’s a strong skinny latte inside her takeaway cup.
It’s your turn to order and, as usual, you watch as your keep-cup makes its way down the line of experts, each stage as crucial to the taste as the next. But that’s why you keep coming back to this place – they always get it exactly right.
First, a spoonful of sugar, brown, scooped from the quirky jar tucked in beside the machine. The barista seamlessly grinds and extracts your shot, the process so smooth, it’s obviously second nature. I wonder how many times they do this each day?
Next, to the milk. They pick up the jug marked almond and roughly splosh in the liquid from the carton. On goes the steam wand, the milk starts swirling, but they’re barely even paying attention, already looking at the next order coming through. SZOOOP - and it’s done, the perfect temperature, the perfect consistency, as easy as ABC.
And finally, the pour. They’re careful to stir in the sugar in first, ensuring you get its tasty sweetness the whole way through your drink. The milk flows out of the jug, flawlessly and effortlessly creating a leafy pattern in the foam on the top. You’re in awe at this part every time, but the absent-minded barista doesn’t even pause to think as they push the cup towards you, offering a friendly smile and a “Have a nice day!”, and immediately move on to the next one, a cute little love heart on top this time.
Snapping on the lid, you take your first sip as you step back into the cool air outside. Yep, that’s why you keep coming back to this place – absolutely perfect, every time.