New North Perth addition Satchmo Cafe has absolutely nailed the the thing that's arguably most difficult, but most important, to get right in a cafe. Any guesses what it is? It's not the coffee. Don't get me wrong; they've delivered there - the coffee's consistently great; smooth and deeply flavourful without any bitterness - but that's not what I'm talking about. And the food - from a New York deli-styled menu (all beans and hash and hearty carbs and sweet cakes and fresh juices) - is equally on-the-money, but again - that's not the thing that Satchmo does best.
Where they really deliver is in the vibe of the thing. I know, I know - it's a horribly subjective measure, and I'm probably ten years too late for a Castle reference to remain bang-on relevant, but stay with me for a minute.
Satchmo styles itself as 50s New York jazz joint, complete with soulful background tunes, crates of secondhand records for sale, airy dining room styled with simple rugs and wooden chairs, vintages maps among the artworks on the walls, and a lazy, laid-back, stay-all-day vibe. It's the kind of place you feel better for visiting - and ain't that all you could want from a cafe?
What makes that so great, though, isn't just its look - you know that the cafe's following a theme (Satchmo was a nickname given to jazz great Louis Armstrong - a contraction of the unkind "satchelmouth", in reference to the size of the musician's mouth). But this isn't your typical contrived hipster joint.
Sure, it's attractive to me - the moronic trendster girl in the felt hat in the corner, writing tragic poetry in my journal with a long black cooling in front of me - but part of the easygoing vibe is this lovely, inclusive, welcoming feel. I've seen octogenarian couples visit for afternoon tea; suited men conduct meetings at the corner table; a activewear-clad couple power in for a juice; a knock-kneed teenager arrive after school for a coffee and a read; even Renee's baby has visited. Everyone's welcome; it's everyone's place.
Full credit there to owner Nathan, vibe leader - he's the bespectacled guy behind the coffee machine, proffering homemade biscuits and earnestly charting the geography of Satchmo's single origin (it's a locally roasted Crema bean from Papua New Guinea, in case you were wondering).
There's little more I'd want to recommend than a coffee, a caramel slice, and a good lazy afternoon in North Perth's newest cafe - and that goes for everyone.