Coffee Shops - Chain or Independent?

Do you prefer chain/branded coffee shops or independent ones? Where I live, I am spoilt for choice, which means I have reflected upon when and why I choose to visit each ones (and why there are some I never visit).

  1. Wifi access. If I have my laptop with me, I love going to coffee shops with free wifi. I'm sometimes surprised that some of them have wifi, but don't advertise the fact that they do, as I often won't go to a place if it doesn't say wifi in the window.
  2. Choice of coffees. Chain coffee shops win on this one. I love a syrup, and a I love a tall latte. I find that most independent coffee shops won't serve me a tall latte, they only have regular coffee cups, and they want to serve coffee 'as it should be served'. This does slightly ignore the fact that I want, and would pay for, a larger drink. I like it milky.
  3. Dog/Child friendly. Sometimes I want a quieter coffee shop, and some smaller shops are better for this, as they can't fit pushchairs in. the chain coffee shops can get noisy with lots of babies. Sometimes I want dog friendly, and independent shops can be much better for this.
  4. Busy-ness. Some coffee shops get very busy at certain time of day, and I always want to sit and enjoy my coffee.
  5. Decoration. The atmopshere of the coffee shop matters. Are the chairs comfortable? Are the tables too low to put a laptop on? Does it feel cosy?
  6. Choice of food. Some of the chain coffee shops have my favourite coffee, but poor food, and sometimes a girl needs lunch! I particulalry like coffee shops that serve toast.
  7. Staff. Independent coffee shops should win this one everytime, but sometimes they disappoint. Starbucks did use to impress me, but the new 'writing your name on the cup' thing annoys me.
  8. Opening Times. I sometimes like an evening coffee, so I appreciate some of the independent coffee shops that open till late (sometimes with a alcohol license too). I do find that some independent ones don't open early enough for me though!
  9. Price. I rarely chose on price, but sometimes it is a consideration.
  10. Length of time you can stay comfortably. I find the chain coffee shops better for this one, especially if the independent shop is small in size. If you want to take a table for more than hour, only certain shops feel appropriate!