June 20 2018

What Makes a Café Great?

A few weeks back, when Jimmy’s opened shop inside Frank + Oak, roughly 30 seconds from our studio, team WE rejoiced. After recently losing Dark Horse and Sense Appeal, we were thirsty for something new.

Still, Queen West is far from a coffee desert; there are probably 20 places to quaff a cappuccino within a seven-minute walk. It begs the question: What makes Jimmy’s—or any coffee shop—better than the rest? Is there something beyond price, proximity and quality of brew that helps us find a fave among the mega-chains and micro-indies?

For one answer, it’s worth reminding ourselves that coffee shops have never been primarily about coffee. They, in a sense, are the original Facebook, and the original newspaper. When the first coffee shops opened, in the 16th century Ottoman Empire, they were places for men to play checkers and talk politics. By the 18th century, European chaps like Voltaire and Rousseau frequented cafés and sowed the seeds of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution.

In short, part of the reason we love Jimmy’s has got to be its ineffable quality as a gathering place—the characters, the conversation, the atmosphere.

Or maybe it’s the fact that it’s so incredibly close that we don’t need to wear a coat to get there in winter.

Either way: We’re thrilled to welcome Jimmy’s to the ’hood!