I’ve never frequented a place long enough for me to see it open, shut down, reopen, switch owners, and then close for good – until l discovered Doiffee. It was a tiny cafe in my neighborhood, run by a husband, wife, and their sons.
I remember my first visit – I was there with my sister and my nephew. I had my first taste of the shop’s signature beans, a cup of hot long black coffee. It became my go-to taste for years to come. From that night onwards, every cafe I visited led me to compare their long black against Doiffee’s. Doiffee always won.
It was the perfect blend of bitterness and thickness and perfectly priced. Since it was cheaper than coffee at western cafes everywhere, tasted better, and was a few minutes away from home, I had no reason to go anywhere else. I have yet to discover a cafe that uses the same beans.
I spent many nights there after work, on weekends, and on public holidays. They used to open till 10 PM on weekdays and midnight on weekends. It was quiet, they had fast internet and plenty of seats. Perfect conditions to work or chill on my laptop. I’d even go there to read.
They were rarely closed. If I wasn’t anywhere else, I’d be at Doiffee, on my laptop while I sipped coffee and smoked cigarettes. Occasionally I’d order beers or food but I was mainly there for the coffee.
Unfortunately, times got tough for the cafe. Over the years they started losing customers. It wasn’t common for me to be one of their only customers for the whole day. I’m not sure why, perhaps it was all the other new places opening up in the neighborhood, or the location of the venue. I didn’t care that much. As long as they served the coffee I enjoyed, everything was alright. However, one customer does not keep a business afloat.
Then the pandemic hit. Doiffee had to close its doors. They tried doing deliveries for a bit but it wasn’t sustainable. I couldn’t visit the cafe for a long time. Many months passed without any change. Then one day, when I was in the area, I saw the shutters opened for the first time and wandered in. I met the new manager of the place and he told me that the previous owner had sold off the business. He was the new person in charge. They were making some renovations before they reopened it in a few weeks.
I was ecstatic. Doiffee was coming back! And it did. I resumed my trips to the cafe again, as soon as possible but one important thing had changed – they weren’t using the same beans anymore. Despite the fancy new food menu, their coffee was no longer the same. But that didn’t stop me from returning.
I spoke to one of the staff about the beans and he said I wasn’t the only one who noticed the different beans. I wasn’t the only customer who had brought it up. Eventually, he convinced the manager to switch back to the old signature beans. All was good in the world again.
At this point, traffic to the cafe was decent but it was still nowhere close to what it was in its heyday. Their closing time was now 6 PM but it was better than not being open at all. Things weren’t looking promising.
A few months after the reopening, the new owner pivoted the business. They were no longer interested in cafes and turned it into a Chinese restaurant. They renovated the place, gave it a new name, and changed the staff. That was the end of Doiffee. Though the food there was decent, it was no longer a place to get coffee or to sit and work at. The business was much better for them, but I no longer had a reason to work there.
I’m not sure what happened but a few months later, the Chinese restaurant closed down and turned into a western food place.
Since then I have found another haunt to frequent but I doubt anywhere will be able to replace Doiffee for me. The number of hours I’ve spent there – writing, working, finishing online courses, reading, performing, and chilling with friends – have made it a significant part of my life.
Although I wish it was still around for me to enjoy, a part of me is glad it’s gone. Like a dying animal put to rest – it no longer has to suffer. Would it be right to equate it to your favorite TV show canceled early? Or ending before it dragged on and turned into a mess?
I guess that’s how life is. Everything has an expiry date, we’re merely not privy to that info most of the time. That limited lifespan teaches you to appreciate them before they’re gone. You never know when your favorite cafe (or pet/person/place/thing etc) is going to disappear. Enjoy it while it lasts.