Poolside’s music sounds like its name. Simple. Unbothered. The epitome of chill. Are you ready to forget about your worries for a few days? Poolside’s got you. Have you turned off your Slack notifications for the foreseeable future? Try Poolside. Is it time to fully check out and maybe relocate to a place with more palm trees? Turns out, all of that pairs nicely with Poolside as well.
What Poolside doesn’t bring to mind, exactly, is caffeine. These blissed-out beats and vibes—think: Hot Chip, Junior Boys, Washed Out, etc.—are kind of the opposite. The aptly-named Jeffrey Paradise crafts low-key grooves that should soundtrack your next vacation. But! As he travels the world taking his sweet sounds to new locales, he loves hunting down great coffee. Here, he divulges all his secrets for finding proper java in any town.
Avoid advice from anyone who isn’t a coffee nerd.
This includes reviews, hotel concierges, people who “love” coffee, random locals, etc. Almost everyone thinks they love good coffee, but it’s really only extreme coffee nerds that know where to go, what place used to be good but isn’t now, what place used to suck but is good now, and what to order at the specific coffee shop.
Start with Google Maps.
Take a look at all the available coffee shops near you. This option isn’t ideal because some restaurants and hotels have good coffee and it won’t come up in this type of search, but I’ve found it’s the most up-to-date database. Use this to get an overview of what you’re working with and the distance to each, and the modes of transit available to get there. And don’t rule out a Bird or Lime scooter, as those can be dorky, fun ways to get to a place that isn’t close enough to walk. This tip is obvious, maybe, but it's better than Tripadvisor (AKA: the worst for coffee) or Yelp, or even a basic Google search. Just use that handy maps app and don't forget Rule #1.
Look at the pictures.
Too many times the coffee shop descriptions and reviews have led me astray. (Again: see Rule # 1.) People talking about bathing themselves in the beautiful beans and aromas just to find it’s not even average coffee!
Try to find a photo where you can see what type of espresso machine they’re using. Is it a classic Italian machine or something where the clerk just presses a “start” button? Look for an espresso machine that takes skill to pull shots from.
Now, look at the drinks themselves. Do they look legit? If it’s a bunch of photos of pastries or frappe type drinks, avoid.
Finally, are there photos of bicyclists in spandex? If so, this is a good sign. I don’t know why cyclists like good coffee, but they definitely do.
Read the reviews with discernment.
There are a few things to watch out for. The word “barista.” If people are using that word in the reviews it’s a good sign. No rando looking for good WiFi and a sweet roll will use that word.
People complaining about how long it took is also a good sign. This isn't always the case, but if the place cares about coffee it’s going to have a long wait once in a while, and people who don’t love coffee always complain about that.
People complaining about the prices being too expensive is another good sign. On the opposite side of this, if there’s a particular snack or food item that is mentioned a lot in the reviews like “OMG the banana bread is out of this world,” you should avoid that coffee shop.
Extra credit: What if my only option is Starbucks?
You should order a cappuccino, ask for blonde beans as opposed to the dark roast, and since you can ask them for a specific temperature for the milk (which they usually burn), ask for 133 degrees, as milk won't burn at that temperature. Obviously, you'll want a short cappuccino because otherwise it’s not really a cappuccino. Congrats, you just enjoyed Starbucks.