Café Moccha 2: it stands on Essex Road and is owned by an Albanian with a monkey-cap haircut who harmlessly flirt with anything fetching that walks into his café. Most of the staff, dressed in non-descript black, are Albanians too who speak in a charming rounded-vowel accent, and lovingly eat up every sixth preposition in a sentence.
There is nothing distinguishing about it. It has granite-top tables and metal pipe chairs neatly arranged in rows; clean cream walls with no wall hangings or paintings; and two large televisions always playing an Italian music channel called My Music. (Why Italian? Six months of visiting it every day and I still don’t know). The paper card menu that stands on every table is basic – omelettes, paninis, ciabattas, sandwiches and pastas (most of it greasier than I prefer). The coffees are standard lattes and mochas – though always perfectly turned out.
So why is this place always full, when many others along the road are not? There are groups of mothers meeting for early morning group therapy chats, toddlers stumbling about, black suited men having business meetings, old couples having their daily meals, college students discussing work projects, and lots and lots of single souls tapping away on their laptops like me.
I doubt it is the the food, the coffees, the space, the décor. It is the fact that the café is always busy, but never enough to not have a table for you. The staff is busy but never so much that they don't greet you in recognition or remember what you usually like. You are somehow never underdressed or overdressed for it. And it is not a part of a chain, so you know that you are special to have found it. The experience is not available dime-a-dozen on every street. You feel welcome, wanted, special, accepted just as you are – and it comes with a free, great internet reception. Now, isn’t that all we look for in a relationship?
If I could marry again, I would marry my Café Moccha.
Cafe Moccha 2: 48 Essex Road, Islington, London N1 8LR. (phone: 07882892493)