What's Your Favorite Espresso Coffee Shop?

With the rising popularity of espresso coffee drinks, shops are springing up on almost every street corner, it seems. But it takes more than just great coffee and a counter decorated with coffee beans to establish a reputation as a really great espresso coffee shop. Many customers are looking not only for a great-tasting cup of coffee, but a certain atmosphere, as well. And for many people in this age of telecommuting and digital multitasking, a wireless Internet connection is a must, too. So… what makes a great espresso coffee shop? Let's take a look at a few factors.

Coffee Selection

Let's face it: you can get lousy coffee at the nearest convenience store. Any espresso coffee shop that is serious about staying in business has to serve great coffee, and in enough variety to satisfy a range of tastes and preferences. Many coffee enthusiasts enjoy trying coffees grown in different regions of the world, or roasted with different techniques to produce unique flavors and aromas. Whether it's Zambian, Guatemalan, Ethiopian, or Sumatran; or whether your favorite is French roast, Italian roast, or something else, it's nice to have a choice of several interesting blends when ordering at an espresso coffee shop. And if you're grabbing a cup late at night, right before heading home and hitting the sack, a cup of rich-tasting decaf is a must.

Environmental and Social Responsibility

Personally, I favor espresso coffee shops that also pursue environmentally responsible and/or fair trade practices. It gives me an extra-nice feeling, while I'm enjoying a mug of rich-tasting coffee, to know that the growers in third world countries who supply much of the world's coffee are getting fair prices and treating their workers well. Companies who subscribe to the fair trade code of conduct perform due diligence on their suppliers and trading partners to insure compliance. I like that. I'm also concerned about the environment, so knowing that sensitive ecological balances are being preserved in coffee-growing regions, and also that the local outlets of the company are recycling and doing other things to conserve natural resources, makes my cup of coffee taste a little bit better.

Networking—Social and Otherwise

Many people nowadays enjoy the convenience of checking email, social networking sites, or even working as they sip a cup of coffee from their favorite espresso coffee shop. And if you can do that in an atmosphere surrounded by friends and good conversation, so much the better. Most really good espresso coffee shops feature free wireless Internet access, and this trend seems likely to continue for the foreseeable future.