Opinion: Cafes and Loud Music
We wandered recently over to Green Square Kingston for some late breakfast and coffee. There are now four different cafes serving breakfast/brunch in this one place with another across the street. I would estimate that there would be at least another six further around the block. We thought we may check out a new cafe that had opened just weeks earlier.
On approaching the new cafe, we had our answer as to whether we would be going to the new one. We were greeted with loud boof boof music. Strangely the place was empty except for the staff. Nearby the three other cafes were doing a roaring trade. We joined one of them for a great brunch. There was no music and people were talking and enjoying their food and each others’ company.
I remember recently being in Sydney, and likewise was looking for a quiet place to eat and talk. We found a cafe that had just opened and there was no customers yet. In we went. Friendly greetings and orders taken. Then the music was turned on and turned up. We had to ask that it be turned down so that we could talk. The owners seemed surprised as I suspect they thought their particular loud music was part of their atmosphere.
I play lots of music when I am at home and when in the car by myself. I do not talk over music if I can help it, so I will turn of the music for a conversation. Likewise I go to cafes for the coffee and conversation. It is a social thing. To have to raise your voice to talk because of some loud music just does not make sense.
I could provide a very long list of cafes I have not walked into, and another list of a few that I have left without ordering when the music could not be turned down.
Another version of this annoyance, happens on occasions at my local shopping centre. There are numerous cafes, all doing quite well these days. I suspect that a site which was previously a jewellery shop, is now being revamp to be yet another cafe or restaurant.
Three of the most popular are right beside each other. All three are reasonable with one being more popular because of their good coffee and very prompt and friendly service. None play music. But ever now and then along comes a busker who sets up facing the people on the outside tables and blasts away. Usually the singing and guitar work is just acceptable. But it is loud and destroys the former ambience of the three outside cafe areas. I have been tempted at times to collect from the other patrons and pay the busker to move on.
There are so many noises and sounds to distract us from peaceful thinking, from just being able to ponder and from having meaningful social gatherings and conversations. Cafes are the place for such activities. I am not talking here about the mall style cafes who work on people in and out as fast as possible and they are bombarded by the muzak as defined by the mall operator. I just do not go there.
I am talking about the more humane and urban friendly cafes where people meet to talk, to converse, to enjoy light meals and good coffee. The world is full of these but too many think they have to be hip and have loud music. At times I have noticed that the staff turn up the music as they are enjoying it. These need to be avoided as the same attitude goes through to how they treat their customers.
It is not that hard. Good coffee, good menus, comfortable seating, tables not too close to each other, and a peaceful atmosphere so that the customers can do the rest.
I wish the new coffee shop in Kingston all the best, I hope they soon work out why they are not attracting people.
Should I mention people in cafes being loud on mobile phones? Should I mention people bringing their dogs into cafes? Maybe another time.
I can recommend Bitter Sweet at Kingston, Green Square. The coffee is OK; staff very quick to serve; good food especially their Colombian omelet served with yummy bread; recommend a side of spinach that comes with a garlic flavour.
Paul Costigan, 7 January 2014