There is something ridiculously cheerful about Caribe Cafe. And it's not just the chirpy canary yellow walls, the endless loop of Bob Marley & Co. reggae music, the broad smiles on each of the staff's faces. No, that all falls into the normal scale of cheerful, accessible in most joints littered across Wellington. Caribe's cheer reaches the level of ridiculousness.
I felt my smile spread across my face as soon as I walked into the cosy bright little store, and it kept reaching towards the horizontal edges of my face as I drank a near-perfect mocha ($4) and munched away at a quinoa, almond and raisin salad ($8.50) from the cabinet. But I still couldn't understand this sudden flux of cheer.
And then, just as I was finishing up the last raisin and quinoa morsel in my bowl, the bubbly waitress from the behind the counter said goodbye to an elderly customer, presumably a regular, by his first name ("Stewart"), and wished him a happy birthday. Stewart left the scene, and the waitress/barista swooped past my table and continued the small talk we had about Bob Marley at the counter while clearing my plate - as well as checking how I found the salad. And then a Galileo-like epiphany (albeit smaller in importance) struck me: everyone working at Caribe really, actually, cares. About the people, about the coffee, about the food, about everything. Which makes it impossible not to be happy in a place like this.