Saturday, 4 June 2011

A Moveable Feast

Writers have long held associations with cafés – Ernest Hemingway meticulously documented his time writing in Parisian coffee shops and bars in the 1920s, while it is well known that JK Rowling wrote much of the Harry Potter books in The Elephant House café in Edinburgh. 

Somewhere warm and dry for JK to create her magic
But what is it that attracts authors to cafés? Is it simply that they offer somewhere warm and dry to sit and write for the small price of a cuppa? I know some writers who need to get out of the house to work, and find the bustle of the local coffee shop helps to focus their attention, while at the same time removing them from the temptation of Facebook or the lure of daytime TV ‘research’. The fact that cafés are frequently found actually inside bookshops these days, would suggest that books and a warm beverage somehow belong together. After all, there is something almost decadent about settling down with a brew and a good book - whether it’s already written or not! 

Like most writers I take any opportunity I can to write or read or do a bit of editing. When travelling I'll find myself seeking out the nearest café if I have time to spare between trains or events. It was while walking round one particular city in the rain, tired and hungry, on a fruitless search for a café, when it occurred to me it would be useful if there was a writers' guide to cafés – especially those sympathetic to a scribbler nursing the same skinny latté for an hour or so. As far as I know, no such guide exists, so I thought we could create one here. 

Here's one in Barmouth, Wales, to get us going …
Therefore I’m asking for your café recommendations. It can be somewhere local or a place you stumbled upon in your travels, it doesn't matter. Just let me know the name and address – a picture would be great if you have one – and I’ll compile a list online. Then, the next time you're in Brecon or Belfast, Brechin or Birmingham, with time to spare and words to scribe, you'll know where to go for a good brew and a quiet corner to be inspired. 

I'll be posting a few of my own classic coffee shops over the next few months, so watch this space.


  1. My favourite cafe ... which I will selfishly not name ... has a basement. So one can write, unnoticed for a lengthy period of time - with the loo just a few steps away. There's also something comfy about the table height ...

  2. Ah, come on, Candy! Spill the beans …

  3. Looking forward to a tour of great cafes! I've always wanted to go to say, Paris and visit some of the cafes there that many famous writers have written their works..