I spent much of this afternoon sitting in a cafe near Stoke Newington. Good atmosphere, good coffee, execrable music. Their entire music collection seems to consist of one CD on repeat; that CD appears to be a collection of covers of obvious Bob Marley songs done in corporate-jazz/R&B-ballad/bland-acoustic-b
If I ran a café, one of my key hiring criteria for staff would be that they have to be passionate about music. It doesn't matter what kind of music: whether it's hip hop, krautrock, country and western or whatever. As long as they care enough to bring in things that have inspired someone, rather than falling in the valley of the undead at the statistical average of public taste, and dig up the good things that don't end up getting played otherwise. Part of the job description would involve bringing in CDs to put on.
(Of course, they'd have to be able to make a decent cup of coffee, but that can be learned.)
I'll have to try the Candid Arts.
There are a few OK ones in Portobello Road (Mau Mau Bar, the Ground Floor and Progresso are variously passable), and some in Highbury (the Grove Cafe is OK, except for their penchant for having commercial radio on). The Acoustic Cafe near Newington Green and the "literary cafe" whose name I forget in Fortess Road, Kentish Town, fall into this category as well.