Coffee Houses

Coffee Houses are such an interesting social experiment to me.
It’s almost as if they harken back to a time before the hurried, commercial world which we all inhabit in these oh-so modern times. Clearly now, I’m not talking about Starbucks. Or am I? Looking back at college, I spent quite a bit of time in one coffee house or another, sipping java (or, more usually, tea), playfully bickering with friends, or studying for some class or another. Coffee houses feel more like coffee HOMES. At least the good ones do.

So, what traits establish that feeling? Why does anyone go out and spend upwards of $3 on a single glass of what is 95% water? Like bars, it’s all about the atmosphere.

Every good java joint (coffee cottage, brew bar, mud mansion, Joe joint) that I’ve been to seems to have a few things in common:

  • upholstered couches. I don’t quite understand the magic of soft fabric, but it seems requisite. Maybe, deep down, we all feel the need for a comfortablec derriere.
  • mellow music playing at a volume slightly louder than you’d expect. Usually, walking into a coffee house is an affront to my ultra-sensitive (or perhaps just jumpy) nerves. They usually play great music, but always just a little bit louder than I’d expect from a place where people are expected to sit, rad, and talk.
  • hip, slightly arrogant staff. Maybe it makes us feel that we’re part of the “in-crowd”?
  • A chess/checkers set.
  • Avant Garde art decorations on the walls
  • a greasy stranger working feverishly on a coffee-stained manuscript. I guess at this time, as I write this at Mojo Coffee… that stranger is me.

What do you think of coffee houses? Do you still go to them often (if you ever did)?

One Response to “Coffee Houses”

Completely sounds like Trident to me, but I can’t think of that many other places (in Boulder at least) that match that description so perfectly. However, I think that last point now more frequently includes a laptop instead of a physical manuscript, though hopefully not coffee-stained.

In all honesty, I’ve never gone to coffee houses as often as I’d have liked, but that more stems from the problem of not living within walking distance to down-town areas. It’s so much more fun to walk to a coffee shop instead of driving into town, trying to find parking around Pearl St., and meeting up with friends at the designated location. But, I really hope to live in a more down-town area sometime, and then be able to maybe find a coffee shop to call my home away from home.

That aside, it really sounds like you’ve analyzed the enviornment down to a tee. I think of all the attributes listed, the upholstered couches is the item most often missed, but it definitely adds that extra feeling of homeyness.

Teisha - January 22nd, 2005 at 11:37 pm

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