The Coffee Chronicles: Lift

By Liz Butterfield

If you are looking for a cool, urban atmosphere with a futuristic vibe, Lift Coffee Shop on Broad Street is the place for you.

I have been rather surprised by my visit to Lift Coffee Shop. For one, it was not what I anticipated. As usual, I expect the atypical coffee shop to boast neutral colors, chill music and lots of comfy chairs.

Lift, however, is nothing like your usual coffee shop. Besides the similarities in menu items, such as actual coffee, and a few colorful window seats, Lift’s atmosphere is very different from other notable coffee shops in Richmond. And it is not, necessarily, a bad thing.

In addition to a run-of-the-mill coffee bar, Lift also features a broad selection of brunch items, including, breakfast sandwiches, bagels and lox.

I quickly noted with much surprise, mimosas start at .95 for twelve ounces.

Something else that stuck out was that Lift sells beer and wine, and with their albeit limited selection, you can still design your own six-pack for .95.

To risk redundancy, Lift has a nice variety of cream cheeses, breakfast sandwiches, and a good array of options for the early to late morning bruncher. Prices are fairly reasonable, but I’m not impressed. I’m also not psyched by the variety of coffee beans they have.

If you’re just looking for a good latte, this won’t be a problem. Also, the staff was very nice, and was eager to suggest orders and accommodate to your preferences.

By no surprise, Lift’s theme is a very uplifting. It feels more peppy rather than jazzy and sometimes depressing like some of the other shops I’ve visited. The atmosphere puts you, literally, into the sky and the interior design is impressive.

Lots of cloud-shaped cutouts, blue and white, hanging across the walls with a few bright streaks of green take you into an energetic flight, fueled solely on caffeine, of course. What else could you expect from a shop that names its sizes “buzzed” (small), “wired” (medium), and “addicted” (large)?

Some hanging lights and even a little ladder down from the ceiling in the back of the kitchen add to the almost trippy aesthetic, that feels like a throwback children’s cartoon. Their corkboard extends across a large part of the wall and is full of listings for area events, especially local performing arts.

But don’t get me wrong; this coffee shop isn’t all cool colors and delicious food. There are a few drawbacks that might turn you off from a breakfast here. Number One, flies. If there is one thing I cannot stand near my food, especially when I’m paying for it, are fruit and houseflies.

Number Two, music. Generally, music helps people relax and enjoy life a little more, but that’s not how I felt in Lift. Somewhere I think I heard a little music playing somewhere close to the closet, but maybe I just imagined it. A quiet coffeehouse is no fun to chill out in.

In addition to those big turn offs, the paper rack, was not stocked or organized in any kind of cohesive manor, besides the suggestive labels on tags.

Also, there was barely a place to sit even when the place wasn’t at its peak. The only options were a half a dozen tables and a few stools, plus a smattering of seats at the bar, which is discouraging to the laptop user who does not feel like competing for space.

Their limited selection of pastries was kind of a bummer, and I found my chai to be too sugary for even my craving sweet tooth.

Despite a few gloomy drawbacks, I will still keep a special place for Lift in my heart. Its unorthodox, contemporary, design was very cool, and it transformed the atmosphere of just another Sunday afternoon into an optimistic and productive workday.

All in all, I think Lift is a fine coffee shop for a good Sunday brunch, when you’re done with recovering from that crazy Saturday night and you need to focus on the week ahead.

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