The floors are hardwood and the walls are brick. They’ve been standing longer than Cory has been pulling espressos and that’s the way we like it in the Rivermarket. The woosh of the milk being steamed flows with the melody of the dripping pour-over coffee and the swing of the front door as it opens, welcoming a new guest into its space. The tap tap tap of the portafilter and the clink of the saucers hitting the cup is my Sunday playlist and I cannot start the day without it.

My local coffee shop, Quay Coffee or my home-away-from-home, is just that. It’s where I was fortunate enough to meet other coffee aficionados who I now call friends. We meet and catch-up and it’s rare that if I’m here, I don’t at least know one person. The baristas know our names and our orders and we learn about their lives little by little as we come in each day. We notice when they grow a mustache or shave it off or when they are especially proud of their milk art. They follow my French Bulldog on Instagram and come outside and give him a cuddle when he joins on bright sunny mornings. One of the former baristas even used to baby-sit him during the week. They make an effort each and every time, even if the guest is new or they are on their phone or wearing sunglasses-they show they care because they really do.

If I am here alone, I like seeing the rapport between them, behind the bar, trying coffee and joking with the regulars. A camaraderie forms between them and it’s lovely to see unfold. I know that Cory, our friend the owner of this fine establishment has done a lot to foster the community that has blossomed within his shop. His baristas learn the names of almost everyone that walks in the door and it’s amazing how they remember all they do. Another part of its success comes from the people that commune here and who live in this neighborhood. As you may know, we have neighbor nights and we support local business and we meet our neighbors and spend time outside together. This community welcomed a warm, cozy coffee shop to help unite us no matter the season.

My love affair with coffee began in Spain in 2009. Everyone, and I mean literally everyone, asked to go for a coffee when you met them. This was how it was done. No matter the time of day, be it morning or eight in the evening, a coffee was standard procedure. I never had coffee before and I haven’t really ever gotten into tea. What to do? Start drinking coffee. A cafe con leche was my foray into the bean world and I have to say, it was love at first sip. Coffee in Europe is plain amazing anyway so It was a good place to begin my journey. The creamy milk and the sweet yet bold roast was comforting and delicious and from there, my morning ritual was born.

coffee beans cup

At one euro twenty a cup, with a croissant, It was a small ‘luxury’ that I could afford each day. Because I taught English beginning in the afternoons, I could enjoy long leisurely mornings with a good book or a podcast and sit at my favorite spot, around the corner from our flat, for an hour or two and watch the world go by. It is a ritual that I feel a lot of people take part in and I love knowing that the way of life I fell in love with in Europe has translated to the culture in the states as well.

For me, a perfect morning begins with rain outside and me, like in a movie montage, doing that light jog to the coffee shop until I get in the doorway and can close my umbrella. I walk in and the barista gives me a hello and a smile and I walk up to the till where he knows my order already and we make light conversation instead. I grab a table by the window as I watch the rain tap tap tap to the beat of the beans in the background and I take out my novel. I wait for them to call my name and I sit and read and I revel in my home-away-from home, this little spot in my neighborhood that is so dear to me. Your neighborhood coffee shop can become so much more than just a building, if you let it.

Below is a little list of some of the beautiful and historic coffee shops I have visited around the world that felt like home, for at least an hour at some point in my life- ones I think you should visit should you get the chance.

Sant Eustacio il Caffe
Piazza Sant’Eustachio 82
00186, Rome, Italy

We Pudding
Carrer Pau Claris 90
08010 Barcelona, Spain

Cafe Zurich
Plaza Catalunya, 1
Barcelona, Spain

La Fabrica Girona
Carrer de la Llebre, 3
17004 Girona, Spain

Cafe Panorama
Sergels torg 3 (Kulturhuset, 5th floor)
Stockholm, Sweden

Knockbox Coffee
29 Lambs Conduit Street
London WCIN 3NG United Kingdom

Calle Cordoba Baja de San Pablo, 12
28004 Madrid, Spain

Where do you go for your caffeine fix? Is there a special place in your city that is your getaway spot? Please share on Instagram or Twitter using #wanderfullifestyle!