Last year, the year I decided I was going to fall madly in love, I went on 32 first dates. It wasn’t quite an Adam Sandler movie (he and Drew Barrymore made it to 50) but it was a dizzying array of new people.
There was occasional disappointment (baths and ice cream became my best friends), but I’m fortunate to say that, for the most part, everyone I met was kind and pleasant. It’s just that a real connection, that feeling of being on the same electrifying frequency, was elusive.
Many of those first dates occurred over coffee since the proverbial coffee date has a few key advantages: it’s short, expectations are kept in check, and both people are sober. Believe me: a multi-course meal as a first date can be a recipe for extended awkwardness. And over the course of that year, I did learn a few things about acing that quick initial meeting.
Dress to impress but make sure you still feel comfortable. Of course, you’re eager to make a good impression but keep in mind that a tuxedo or a ball gown might be overkill for the setting. Also, you want to feel like yourself, not some forced version of what you think is sexy. I once wore a dress that was way too tight and short for me, and spent the whole time worrying that I was exposing myself, instead of focusing on the conversation.
Show enthusiasm and interest. It may be shocking but your date will like being around you if you display passion for the things you do, and general positivity about the world around you. And if you can add a smile or two, that wouldn’t hurt either. Asking questions and genuinely listening to what your date has to say will also help you get a second meeting.
Keep the conversation light and respectful. Now is probably not the best time to tell your date that your computer password is your ex’s name, or that you have an obsession with gummy bears that you are currently getting help for. That info will probably come out eventually, but not yet. As well, even if you want to run away the minute you see your date, have the courtesy to make agreeable conversation. I had one guy claim he had to go home and do laundry two minutes into the date. Not cool.
Choose an interesting coffee shop. Vancouver has an abundance of unique cafes, and new ones are popping up every day (eg the new locations of Prado Café and Platform 7 Coffee). Instead of choosing some bland multinational chain, go for one that reflects your personality, or at the very least, sets the tone for the date. Even if chemistry doesn’t materialize, you’ll get to enjoy an amazing espresso. Here are five suggestions to get you started:
1. Revolver Coffee (325 Cambie Street): Impress your date by choosing this destination for unapologetic coffee geeks. Chemex, Aeropress, Siphon. These are just some of the brewing techniques used. Interiors, with plenty of brick and rustic wood accents, will have any hipster couple swooning. Their tasting or brew flights are a good way to spark conversation (mmm… what flavour notes are you getting from this one?).
2. Beacoup Bakery & Café (2150 Fir Street): Owner Jackie Kai Ellis has created a charming spot for a cozy tête-à-tête over a steaming cup of chai latte, and a pastry or two (the pain au chocolat, and the cardamom kouign amann are especially heavenly). Chic, feminine décor lends itself to romance, and the smell of baking is bound to make you heady.
3. Caffè Artigiano (various locations): I’ve gone on multiple dates here, usually with busy professionals who want to chat over a cappuccino during their lunch break. While this pick is a chain, it’s a local one that takes its coffee seriously, and features inviting Italian-inspired ambiance. There are also flawlessly executed foam hearts on their drinks. Need I say more?
4. Milano Coffee (various locations): I particularly am a fan of Milano’s Gastown location (36 Powell Street), which features standout coffee served in an edgy, modern aesthetic, with plenty of different seating options for a romantic rendezvous. Seating by the large, front windows makes for good people watching with your date if conversation ever lulls.
5. Thierry (1059 Alberni Street): This sleekly elegant café will signal to your date that you are sophisticated and discerning. Located in the heart of the busy downtown core, this establishment offers a wide selection of pastries, chocolates, and sinful desserts (I adore the chocolate marquise) by famed pastry chef Thierry Busset. They’re also licensed if you want to forgo the sobriety and look at your date through wine-tinted glasses.
While the list could go on and on, the main thing is to have fun, and stay open as you learn about a new person and a new coffee shop in the city. Oh, and did I eventually find love? Stay tuned …
What’s your favourite place in Vancouver for a coffee date?