Sunday, January 07, 2007


My favourite local café is closed for an extended summer holiday, which really screws up my Saturday morning routine. If I can’t start my day with coffee and the newspaper I get cranky. Well, crankier. So yesterday I had to go further afield and find somewhere new.

I ended up at The Spotted Dog in central Victoria Park, a tiny hole in the wall that sends out al fresco tables over a wide swathe of the surrounding pavement, like a kudzu vine trying to engulf someone’s backyard. The furniture and the signage suggested that the proprietors were trying to do this whole café thing on the cheap, with folding tables from OfficeWorks and hand-chalked menus, which is okay if you’re aiming for the grungy student demographic, but the framed prints of famous Australian Impressionists on the walls suggested otherwise. Still, the coffee was okay and at least I didn’t have to bring my own newspaper, as I have to at some other cafes.

Unfortunately the café shares its little arcade with a drycleaners. Ah, there’s nothing like the intoxicating mix of freshly ground coffee and tetrachloroethylene fumes. Sadly it makes the ambience less “spring morning on holiday in Paris” and more “tea break at the rendering plant in Whyalla”.

Later, after running a few errands, I decided spend an hour or two reading a book in another café. I started to head to one of my standards, Exomod in Mount Lawley, but about halfway there I realised that I was making a mistake. For all its myriad charms Exomod has a stark minimalist interior with low stools and padded benches. You perch at Exomod, not lounge. I needed somewhere where I could slump in a big comfy chair for an hour. That was my priority.

Aw crap, I thought, with a sudden, hideous flash of insight. I have to go to Gloria Jean’s.

The marketing people at Gloria Jean’s Global HQ (who are no doubt legion, probably outnumbering the baristas by six to one) are making a fundamental mistake when they sell their franchises as “coffee shops”. They would be wiser to sell them as “comfy chair centres”, since that’s where they really excel. Their coffee is horrible, sugar-saturated swill, but their comfy chairs are truly without equal. The signs should really look something like this:

Gloria Jean’s Comfy Chairs
Coffee also available, if you really insist

I drove there, parked my car, and skulked in. I found the perfect comfy chair right in the window, with plenty of natural reading light. Music that had been focus-grouped to hell and back floated overhead, and I received a large, slightly burnt coffee in a paper cup. But daaaaamn, that chair was comfy.

I still feel kinda dirty, though.


Anonymous Matthew Jarvis said...

I can't even begin to image what the lesbian coffee shop hit squads of Milkd's employ will make of your admission that you went to Gloria Jeans - I seem to recall they had some very scathing things to say about poor Gloria.

But while we're talking franchised comfy chair stops, the latest iteration of the Dome franchise does a very nice line in comfy leather club chairs.

Of, and they serve beverages, too.

10:08 PM  

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