Ever since I started my so called "vacation" this week, I find myself visiting a variety of coffee shops throughout the Santa Barbara area. However, visits to certain coffee shops have been limited in duration because of seating material. Hard wood chairs are notorious for their lack of comfort after a period of time. In fact, things can get quite tortuous in the area of the bum without proper padding. But it seems that most coffee shops have turned toward hard surfaces, such as wood, and digressed from the more comfortable, plush couches and arm chairs.Here is a little history of me and coffee houses. I grew up in the age of the up and coming mom & pop coffee shops that offered giant couches in which to enjoy the coffee drink and pastry of your choice. In fact, I frequented a variety of these establishments with my mom, a talented blues musician who hosted many open mic nights. All of these establishments featured large, overstuffed couches that were fabulous for kicking back and even catching a snooze. As I got older, the couches seemed to get smaller, but the experience of kicking back on a nice comfy couch never wavered. Entering into college back east, the couch became an appointment part of my studies, spending many cold, winter nights with books and notebooks on the couch at the corner coffee shop with the roaring fireplace. Yes, couches, coffee, and I go way back. Jumping forward to last week, I started to think about the lack of plush seating in many area coffee shops. While I am sure there are numerous business reasons for ridding coffee shops of plush seating, there is simply something missing. It is almost as if coffee shops have become less intimate, sterile, fast food institutions that offer a perception of character, but leave you hanging when you actually try and find it. So, I have to ask, where in Santa Barbara can I go to enjoy a coffee on a couch? I think this is the true purpose of my vacation. To wake Santa Barbarans up to the fact that their town is lacking one important ingredient… a mom and pop coffee shop complete with fireplace, couch, homemade pastries and baristas that know your name (Look out Norm, Aric is hitting the town!). The first step in proving the missing ingredient really is missing is simple: inventory all of the existing coffee shops, their amenities, atmospheres, etc to see which existing shop comes close. If one does not come close enough, then I must challenge someone with enough capital to create such a place. Well, there it is, the beginning of a project to discover the coffee shops of Santa Barbara!