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We are showing you the Taiwanese version of our site: would you prefer a different location?
As cyclists we all have our particular coffee house, café or bar we keep going back to. Maybe it is a pre-ride meeting spot, maybe it's a post ride watering hole. Either way you have some connection to it because of its proximity to your home, or the quality of its coffee, or even possibly the cycling friendly atmosphere.
If you are ever in the Boston area you should visit this café.
Bloc11 Café in Somerville, Massachusetts is about to have its second birthday this October. The café quickly jumped straight to the café top spot when it opened its renovated Somerville Bank doors a few years ago. Not that Co-Owners Tucker Lewis and Jen Park didn't already have a great model with their other location in Union Square. But, with a fully operational vault, benches made from safe deposit boxes and a killer patio, you can't go wrong.
But the space can't be everything that makes a bar or café the spot to be? I don't know about you, but I've seen plenty of completely dead, yet wonderful spaces. So what is it? What does it take to make a spot like this a destination, let alone a cyclists' destination?
Slate Olson and I pondered just these things as we came up with our little list. This is by no means the be all, end all. Just some thoughts on what makes our riding pleasurable. (This was perfect timing as we are planning out our West Coast Gentleman's Race tomorrow).
1. Amazing Coffee
No one will deny that this needs to be number one on the list. The smell of coffee greeting you as you enter the space. Your first cup of the morning. Why settle for less? In the case of Bloc 11, Intelligentsia Coffee does the trick nicely. Their Single Origin coffees are breathtaking. Especially first thing in the morning. On my most recent trip I picked up a pound of the the El Machete, from Panama.
2. Great Baristas
Not where you thought we might go with number two? Well, customer service is important. Extremely important, especially if a return visit is in order. And a return visit is in order if we're going to set the place up as a destination. Pleasantries work well enough, but it is human interest that works best. It is only when you start to get to know the staff, when they start to remember your drink, or ask you why you're always wearing strange tight fitting clothing, that is when a place really feels like home. Not only this, but it helps when the staff, similar to the one at Bloc, is extremely knowledgeable in regards to the services that they provide. Bloc11 always has a "coffee specialist" on hand.
3. Line of Sight
This is kind of a big one in the more urban areas.
I don't know about you, but when we go for group rides we don't take our locks. They are cumbersome and don't fit in jersey pockets too well. It is nice to feel safe leaving your bicycle for a moment or two. A trip to the bathroom? I don't want to worry about my bicycle not being there upon return. So, a courtyard, or nice open front is a welcome addition and will most likely ensure my return. A friend of mine (and I won't name names because he would be extremely embarrassed) recently left his brand new Canyon Bicycle outside a Café in Barcelona for a shot of espresso. Needless to say, now he has a brand newer Canyon.
I don't want this to happen to me. I want to enjoy the whole experience.
4. Tasty Treats
The sandwiches at Bloc11 are kind of out of this world. Their sister store Diesel Café has one with Roast Beef, Rocket (for you English Blokes), Jalepeño Mayo, and Roasted Beets. Seriously good. Not to mention they're always carrying a large variety of sweets as well, and if you're up on all of these new 'fad diets' there may even be a selection of Vegan treats for you to indulge yourself in.
This is really just the combination of all of the above but with a nice musical selection too. Coffee shops can be similar to bike shops in the sense that sometimes they tend to be too hip for their own good. So, walking the line between what is fashionable and not can be a chore for some people. Yet, with that being said it is fair to say that not everyone's music selection is the same. All you need to do here is mix it up every once in a while. Other additions to the ambiance category would have to be artwork, wireless internet, and even comfortable bathrooms. With that much coffee and food flowing the bathroom can end up being a big factor.
We made this a requirement on our Rapha Continental Rides over the past few years. Each ride needed to start with these things. With the flaky pastries and the quad Americanos. The smell of strong coffee and light banter of baristas and patrons alike.
So, now you know mine.
Where do you to prep yourself for the long haul?
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