Step one – staff
The first part is the hardest – convincing your partner or housemates to cook and wait on you. Grease the wheels by offering to take turns. The actual work is less important than looking the part. Everyone should invest in a pair of skinny jeans, Nike Free RNs and some prominent temporary tattoos. Better yet, get real tattoos together, as a house bonding activity. Whenever you see each other around the house be sure to say, “How’s your weekend going? You up to much today?”
Step two – ambience
The whooshing of milk, the recurrent snarling of the coffee grinder, the burble of conversation – these sounds are more intrinsic to the cafe experience than anything else. If you don’t already have a stereo or bluetooth speaker set up in your lounge room, get one. You’re going to need it to play back the audio you’ll spend the next several weeks covertly recording at your local.
Of course, you could just download Coffitivity, an app that plays ambient cafe noise to work or study to. But using something that generic would be an insult to your local’s painstakingly cultivated aural palette. Who knows where Coffitivity was recorded? It might even have been at an American coffee shop. Yech!
Step three – fit-out
Now that your lounge room is filled with the soothing sounds of a busy cafe, it’s time to make it look the part. Google “terrazzo” or “beechwood”, print out your favourite texture and use it to wrap every table in the house (let’s be real, there’s only a handful of cafes in Australia with tables made of anything else).
Next, you want as much greenery as possible, which should be a cinch this time of year, with so many people going away. Offer to look after your friends’ ferns, fiddle-leaf figs, succulents and lilies, and put them on every available surface. You’ll also want to buy a copy of every metro newspaper, throw away all the interesting sections and leave the remaining pages lying around. Make sure your bathroom is stocked with Aesop or Thankyou handwash. Finally, replace all your chairs with tiny stools, making sure at least half are wobbly.
Step four – food
Don’t let smashed avo intimidate you. There are plenty of recipes online to help you master this culinary quagmire, including Gwyneth Paltrow’s “Superpowered Avocado Toast”. Stay strong and have faith. For that genuine cafe look, scour the neighbourhood and find as many pansies, marigolds and other edible flowers as possible. Your plates won’t know what hit them.
Food behind you, it’s onto coffee. Make sure your fridge is stocked with at least eight kinds of milk/“mylk”. Cow, sheep, goat, almond, rice, oat, soy and coconut to start, plus camel and horse for extra cred. Although, unless you have an espresso machine or you’re willing to pay $5000 for one, you’ll probably be drinking instant or pod coffee in your ersatz cafe. There’s no easy fix for that, sorry. Just close your eyes and pretend your usual barista is having a really, really, really bad day.