So, you know how people visit a new city (or country), and one of the first things they want to do is check out the local cuisine, or the food the city is known for? Yeah... I'm not one of those people.
BUT... I will totally want to check out their coffee shops and get my taste of local flavor that way.
Anyone on a restricted diet can tell you that going out to eat has the potential to be a stressful event, and so for me, coffee is a way around that. I know I'll be happy with a cup of java, so the stress is gone, and I can just enjoy the rest of the experience.
Sitting back, hands cupped around a warm mug, and people-watching: there's nothing better.
Often, my writer's brain will start crafting stories for the people I see. The baristas, the customers, and the passers-by.
National chains are a good backup, but I always seek out the small shops first. I like experiencing the different decor, and talking to the baristas about the different types of coffees they've selected. And, the added bonus is that I get to feed my caffeine habit.