For many people residing on planet Earth (as opposed to those residing elsewhere), Starbucks Coffee is the definitive template when it comes to what a café should be. Never mind all of those quaint historical cafés in Italy and Spain so full of life and local culture. What folks seem to want these days is something standard the world over, as well as the ready availability of a white chocolate mocha, day and night.
Whether or not you’ve had it up to your neck with coffee shop charm, I thought I’d provide you with a list of some rather unusual cafés — catering to a variety of eccentric tastes — that you can visit during your global travels. It’s still not too late to redefine your mental image of what a café can be — other than what the corporate powers that be tell you it should be.
London’s Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium
Cats roaming about while you sip on a hot beverage? Why not? For some feline fun, London’s Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium offers up tea and other warm drinks that will warm your insides. You’ll also find a host of furry four-legged friends on hand to warm your soul as well. This is a popular spot; so book in advance if you want some kitty tea playtime. (Not literally kitty tea, made with hacked-up fur balls, or anything like that.) In the meantime, you can take a look at Dinah’s website, and get to know the cats by name and personality type.
Washington State’s Smokin’ Hot Espresso
From cats to bikini-clad baristas. There’s a great “pussy” joke in there somewhere… I’ll leave the naughty mind-stretch up to you. It probably isn’t hard for you to guess what the main selling point of Smokin’ Hot Espresso happens to be. Yep, babes in bikinis in coffee stands serving up drinks and a fair amount of flirtation. If you’re on the road from British Columbia to California, and are in need of some morning thunder with a healthy side of boobage, you can motor on down to Smokin’ Hot Espresso’s Tacoma location for both.
South Korea’s “Sheep” Café
Do you love sheep, coffee and kimchi? Well, you can now have it all at Seoul’s Thanks To Nature Café. And the best news? 2015 is the year of the sheep! While this shouldn’t stop you from swinging by this joint for java and a few sheep snuggles (real sheep live in the café) in 2016 or 2017, this year would be an exceptionally prudent time to visit, especially if you like to plan your travels according to the Chinese Zodiac.
Spain’s Disaster Café
If you’re ever in Lloret de Mar, Spain, and want to live through a “safe” disaster, I’ve got just the thing for you. The Disaster Café simulates earthquakes for its customers. Oh joy. Try to keep your balance as a 7.8 tremor rocks the floor, and waitstaff decked out in safety helmets try not to spill your order. If you drink heavily, this “shaky” experience might even become more profound.
Los Angeles’s Café Jack
If you love Korean food, a one-of-a-kind café vibe, and the sinking of the RMS Titanic, then Café Jack should be high on your list of bistros to visit. This eatery even looks like a seagoing vessel, and is kitted-out with a ton of décor celebrating James Cameron’s film version of the famous maritime disaster. When in LA, and especially in Koreatown, why not “sink” a little time into Café Jack and relive Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet’s cinematic adventure?
Thailand’s Cabbages and Condoms
With a name like “Cabbages and Condoms,” what could go wrong? This Bangkok-based establishment wants to promote safe sex, and, well, cabbages… maybe? Coming back to the sex part, the hangout (not strictly a café) claims, “our food is guaranteed not to cause pregnancy.” That’s a relief. I hate it when Pad Thai knocks people up.
Condoms are fricking everywhere inside, from the servers and bathrooms to your table. Proceeds from Cabbages and Condoms help fund the Population & Community Development Association (PDA), which promotes family planning and AIDS education. Something tasty to chow down on — the food, not the condoms — and for a good cause? A stop here just makes up for all of those topless cafés and kitty bars you visited on your way there.